- Biological Innovation for Open Society
The BiOS (Biological Open Source/ Biological Innovation for Open Society) is an initiative to foster innovation and freedom to operate in the biological sciences. It was started by Dr Richard Jefferson, the
CEOof Cambia, a non-profit institute in Canberra, Australiaas a parellel to the open source movement in the information technology world, in the patent field, particularly in agricultural biotechnology.
To do this, Richard and colleagues designed the BiOS materials transfer agreement (MTA) and BiOS license. Both of these documents ask those who join a BiOS "concordance" not to assert IP rights against each others' use of the technology to do research, or to develop products either for profit or for public good. Instead of royalties or other conditions that actually stifle innovation, under a BiOS-compliant agreement, in order to obtain the right to use the technology the user must agree to conditions that encourage cooperation and development of the technology.
These conditions are that licensees cannot appropriate the fundamental "kernel" of the technology and improvements exclusively for themselves. The base technology remains the property of whatever entity developed it, but improvements can be shared with others that support the development of a protected commons around the technology. All those who agree to the same terms of sharing obtain access to improvements, and other information.
To maintain legal access to the technology, in other words, you must agree not to prevent others who have agreed to the same terms from using the technology and any improvements in the development of different products.
Richard and his laboratory engineered two 'open source' biological technologies, TransBacter & GUSPlus, for which BiOS licenses are available. The first, TransBacter, was designed to work around the intense patenting associated with the making of transgenic plants. Fortunately, virtually all patents claiming methods for plant transgenics referred explicitly to the bacterium Agrobacterium tumefasciens. Therefore the use of a bacterium outside the genus Agrobacterium would not fall under the claims. Cambia published its work on TransBacter, using bacteria from the genera Rhizobium, Sinorhizobium and Mesorhizobium in 2005 in Nature. The TransBacter technology is thus unencumbered by Agrobacterium patents and is available to all non-profit researchers and institutes upon signing a BiOS materials transfer agreement. For-profit companies are asked to sign a BiOS license and make a contribution to Cambia which is calculated on the company’s financial means.
* [http://www.bios.net/daisy/bios/home.html BIOS.NET]
* [http://www.bios.net/daisy/bios/licenses/2997.html BiOS Licences]
* [http://www.creativecommons.org/ Creative Commons]
* [http://www.bios.net/daisy/bios/462.html Transbacter Nature Paper]
* [http://www.opensource.org/ Open Source Initiative]
* [http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/opensources/book/intro.html (book) Open Sources: Voices from the Open Source Revolution]
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