A coconut sapling being planted at Kulintira village in Khordha district, Odisha. Photo: Ramvikash Verma, ICRISAT. Photo: Ramvikash Verma, ICRISAT.

Intellectual property databases crucial for innovation in smart agriculture

Webinar on solving a puzzle in agriculture in progress. Photo: ICRISAT

Webinar on solving a puzzle in agriculture in progress. Photo: ICRISAT

International experts in a recent webinar discussed how ‘smart agriculture’ – modern information and communication technologies for agriculture – will radically change the way we do things. Patent databases can play a key role in enabling researchers and innovators to leverage technology for agriculture through up-to-date information. Patents or Intellectual Property databases are relevant, valuable and comprehensive sources of technical and legal information that can be used for research and development of innovations.

Computers, satellites, sensors, automated machines, Internet of Things (IoT), drones and a wide range of technologies allow us to reach levels of precision that were unimaginable a few years ago. Key to driving innovation in smart agriculture is the ability to enable researchers, scholars and innovators to access up to date information and research partnerships.

With India’s focus on smart agriculture, it is critical that researchers and innovators understand the current trends in agricultural innovation. When compared with journals or publications, patent databases are much more advanced and informative. “At the Intellectual Property Facilitation Cell at ICRISAT (IPFC), we always advise researchers to refer to patent literature search for latest information while writing a thesis or a proposal, in addition to manuscripts and journals,” said Dr Surya Mani Tripathi, Legal Counsel at ICRISAT.

Patent databases give researchers access to patents documents that can help them learn more about innovations or options to replicate them. “A patent document contains all the technical, legal and business information pertaining to the innovation,” said Mr Ricardo Oltra Garcia, Team Manager – Operations, European Patent Office (EPO).

The technical information included in patent documents are linked to each other that allow to access everything around that innovation or field of technology.

The legal information includes the scope of claims that describe the legal scope of the patent, that is, which part of the innovation has been covered by the particular patent and which isn’t.

The business information includes who the applicant is, companies that are investing in it and allows one to track trends.

Another big advantage of a patent database is the access to global patent information. Patent landscapes help to see and forecast trends in innovations and help build global partnerships. Patent landscapes also help organizations take informed decisions about their IP strategy.


“This is where the European Patent Office comes in. It has the largest patent database in the world, it has over 120 million documents available free of charge via its tool Espacenet,” said Mr Gerard Owens, Country Coordinator, EPO. All patent information in Espacenet is classified, indexed and easily searchable. Espacenet is linked to another free tool called Patent Translate that helps to translate from English to 33 other languages. It is interesting to note that India happens to be the sixth largest user of Espacenet. Ms Ankita Tyagi, Senior Manager IP, European Business & Technology Centre (EBTC) demonstrated how the Espacenet website works and the various features it includes.

The webinar was jointly organized by the EPO, EBTC and IPFC at AIP of ICRISAT on 10 November 2020. A total of 125 participants including scientists, researchers, and innovators took part in the webinar.

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