Could more effective medicines and tastier ice cream come from the belly of a shrimp living in the icy waters off Greenland? A new report called Bioprospecting in the Arctic, sponsored by the United Nations University Institute for Advanced Studies, looks at the current state of research into useful genetic materials found in plants, animals, fish and microbes living in the far north. Included in the report is a list of 31 patents and patent applications based on Arctic genetic resources, such as reindeer, northern shrimp, Artic fox, Arctic scallop, Atlantic cod and junipers. The list of patents is only the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. A quick esp@cenet search on some of the species named in the patents turns up dozens of additional documents. For example, there are at least ten patents related to the marine microbe rhodothermus marinus.
I'm the librarian for research services in the Engineering and Science Library at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. I've been working with patent information since 1991, including seven years at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. I believe that the dissemination of patent information is a public good and should be promoted, especially in the education of science and engineering students.