According to the website, this database enables studies of DNA-based patents issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), making full-text patents available at no cost, and defining a searchable set of patents of interest to those studying genomics, genetics, biotechnology, and other fields.
Patents included in the DPD were identified by searching the claims of US patents for terms specific to nucleic acids. The claims of patents in relevant categories of the U.S. classification system are searched for terms specific to nucleic acids, genes, genetics, and genomics, such as "DNA," "RNA," "nucleotide," "polynucleotide," etc. The current algorithm was developed by the Kennedy Institute of Ethics, modified from an initial algorithm devised by USPTO senior examiner James Martinell. A newer algorithm based on the original, but used with the Delpion search engine is available here: [SearchAlgorithm-Delphion-20030512]. This algorithm is currently being validated by various methods and will be used to update the database.
A subset of the patents was read and coded by hand, according to a coding sheet [Patcode.htm]. Coding sheets are small text files that contain unique codes to assist the staff in further classifying the DNA patents in this database. These patents were selected from an initial collection that the USPTO gave to the congressional Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) for a study of DNA patenting. When OTA ceased operations in 1995, those patents were transferred to the Kennedy Institute of Ethics. In this subset of 1068 patents, each patent was categorized according to biological classification, function, or application (e.g. human origin, full-length gene, transgenic animal, promoter sequence, or vaccine). That subset was also coded according to the affiliations of the inventors and assignees, country of origin of inventors and assignee institutions, and whether the United States Government funded the underlying research. The patents matching criteria on the coding sheet can be searched in the DPD using the unique 7-letter codes to find patents matching those criteria.