John L. King and David Schimmelpfennig
United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service.

A subset of patents owned by six large agricultural biotechnology companies is analyzed from the new Initiatives for Future Agriculture and Food Systems (IFAFS) Agricultural Biotechnology Intellectual Property database. These patents account for over 40% of US agricultural biotechnology patents issued 1976– 2000 held by US and European firms. We describe the quantity, quality, and technological composition of these patent stocks, especially noting differences between these firms and their subsidiaries. Subsidiary firms contributed more patent stocks, although parent firms contributed better patents by one measure of patent quality. Patent stocks developed or acquired by these firms exhibited technological focus in one or more areas of agricultural biotechnology, and parent and subsidiary were not always focused on the same technological area.

Key words: Agricultural biotechnology, intellectual property, technology classifications, utility patents.