January 16, 2015
By Irene Kitsara, WIPO Access to Information and Knowledge Division.
Patenting activity in the field of animal genetic resources is increasingly focused on medical and pharmaceutical markets, rather than products for human consumption, according to a new WIPO study.
The WIPO Patent Landscape Report on Animal Genetic Resources, the first ever large-scale quantitative analysis grouping data on patenting activity involving livestock animals, was presented in November 2014, at a side event during the 8th session of the Intergovernmental Technical Group on Animal Genetic Resources at the FAO in Rome.
The report analyzes more than 14 million patent documents spanning 1976-2013, concerning 17 animal species and subspecies central to global agriculture and food security. The patent documents analyzed in the report are grouped into six technology clusters involving animals and animal genetic resources, namely artificial insemination, marker assisted breeding, transgenic animals, animal cloning, xenotransplantation and animal models.
The report shows a long-term decline in patenting in the area of animal genetic resources for food and agriculture, following a peak in 2001. This decline is likely linked to more-restrictive patent laws in some countries, as well as lagging consumer demand for genetically modified animals.
The report also looks into the use of breed names and traditional knowledge and concludes that the majority of the research and innovation focuses on mainstream breeds, such as Holstein cattle or Merino sheep rather than rarer breeds.
Some of the emerging and promising areas the report identified are those of synthetic biology, metabolic engineering, genome engineering and genome editing, linked to the advancement of genome sequencing projects.