[Adapted from the introductory section of the 1994 book version of the database]
Entries describe inventions (patents or pending applications); CRADAs; and biological materials licenses or transfers. Entries are organized by agency. In many cases, agencies are further broken down by their major divisions or laboratories (e.g., the various institutes of the NIH).
Subject, Inventor/Investigator, Organization and other index terms are displayed after the abstract. Various Subject index terms (e.g., treatments, expression, immunodiagnostics) have been used consistently in both the indexes and abstracts. The Subject Index Users Guide and Microthesaurus provide a better understanding of the terminology used. Cross-references and scope notes are also incorporated in the Subject Index (which is one reason why all subscribers receive a free copy of the book with its 250+ page Subject Index).
Invention entries describe distinct patent properties (U.S. patents and pending applications) assigned to a federal agency/laboratory (with just a few exceptions, usually for inventions involved in disputes over assignment). For some agencies which conduct their research and development through contractor-managed laboratories, such as the Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), it is sometimes difficult to tell whether an invention belongs to the federal agency or is being retained by or transferred to the contractor. Inventions are generally not included where the federal agency/laboratory sponsor appears to have no patent assignment or other ownership interests.
Titles, dates and other information for patent applications are presented for the most recent and presumably active U.S. filing. Various continuations, divisions and other filings often follow and amend patent application filings. In some cases, it is possible that other, preceding patent applications not presented in the Directory may actually be active and may eventually result in separate patents. In other cases, agencies/labs do not report further patent continuations and divisions. Commercial patent databases and other information sources can provide further information about the current status and relationships among patents and patent applications. Entries provide cross-references between known continuations, divisions and other related inventions.
The utility of technologies is broadly interpreted in abstracts and indexing, often broader than the specific language of the patent claims. For example, for a patent application claiming a recombinant viral antigen (without specific claims for utility), the abstract and subject index may indicate that this is useful for production of vaccines, antibodies and immunodiagnostics, and that the viral gene, expression vectors and proteins are provided.
Abstracts were developed using the best available public domain information. Abstracts are often provided even where little or no descriptive information was available from agencies/labs. This situation does not occur for issued patents for which information is readily available. Rather, this applies to patent applications and CRADAs where federal agencies/laboratories may be the only source for information and where only the title and other minimal descriptive information may have been provided. Qualifiers such as "apparently" and "may involve" indicate that the information provided involves judgments and presumptions made by the authors based on available information (including that entry's title, related inventions, research performed by that inventor or laboratory, knowledge of commercial activities of licensees or CRADA collaborators, and other secondary information). In many cases, no further official public information may be available concerning CRADAs, recent patent applications, and licenses beyond that provided here. However, most inventions and CRADAs generally result in scientific and other publications.
Abstracts generally contain detailed information to enable an understanding of the technology and its utility. It is presumed that the user is knowledgeable in the life and biomedical sciences and familiar with the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. All known and potential uses of a technology are included in abstracts and indexes, especially if mentioned in official patent abstracts, exemplary claims or agency/laboratory descriptions. Often where the invention may (in actuality or be presumed to) be mostly relevant to one field of use rather than the many fields that may be claimed, this information is presented. Strain, cell line, organism and substance nomenclature, culture collection deposit numbers, and other specific identifiers are included where available.
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