A brief history of Medolo (by DoJo)
This is the definition of patents:
“A patent confers upon its holder the
right to exclude
others from exploiting an invention for a limited time
in exchange for
the public disclosure
of that invention.”
I’m a structural biologist and Internet entrepreneur. Recently I have been working on a one year mission, for an organisation dedicated to therapeutic antibody research, mAbImprove, with the objective to reorganise the patent-mapping department. There, I discovered the great value of the scientific part of patents. We can find a vast amount of sequences (ex: antibody, epitopes), various parameters (ex: affinity, epitope), a vast amount of original experimental data (ex: pharmacology), methodologies (ex: in vivo / in vitro). In the field of monoclonal antibodies (mAb) and GPCR (G-Proteins Coupled Receptors) it’s important enough to create a post for a scientist to do these kind of search. Doing so we extracted about a hundred of unpublished sequences of antibodies. This alone is of considerable value.
It might sound specific but it’s a general case and I have received testimonies in all biological sciences and this is certainly the case everywhere else because describing invention is the counterpart of rights attached to the patents.
Reading patents is time consuming, frustrating and difficult to extract the required information, they can be long (300 pages is not a rare case), very wordy and ill formatted (figures out of the text). In most cases patents are treated as legal or property documents, rarely as a science or technical information source.
Extracting these embedded data and making them accessible is laborious work. In our field about 40 patents are published each week. Extracting, commenting, formatting, if done manually, is a long process which used to take 6 to 8 hours if not much more. This was in June 2014.
I found the opportunity interesting enough, so that I decided to start a company that would publish a journal made of scientific extracts from patents. I wrote a business plan that opened my eyes to the risks and difficulties. I didn’t find the economy of scale and sufficient productivity. This was in November 2014.
Since January 2015 I have been working on an alternative way. The goal is to reduce drastically the time needed by a scientist for analysing a patent. This can be reduced to 2 hours (my simulations). Thus if we work together with a lot of experts then the burden on each of them is very small so that it is conceivable for them to do the job for free.
But to do this we need a sophisticated software in the following fields: linguistics, documentation work-flow, an excellent interface, a data format and a database. These correspond to very active fields in research (TAL, Open-data, RFD, and SPARQL). This should be done and organised by an open community approach with open-data in mind. This is a bit like Wikipedia and OpenOffice at our size and with a very specialised and expert point-of-view.
The open movement is flourishing and quite important in companies (ex: Google, Zappos), in science (ex: OpenScience, Plos), in standardisation (ex: ODT vs. OOXML), in software and OS (ex: Linux, GitHub and so many more), in culture (ex: Wikipedia, CC) and even in the management of regular companies.
There are about a million patents published each year, not all about science, not all of interest but this is a vast knowledge-opening stake. We won’t publish a journal but a database, of tags, comments, links and layers. All will be free of access, free of charge and free for use for anybody and any usage.
Medolo is a crowd-sourced community effort to extract structured information from patents, comment it and make it available. The project is still in its very first phase where support and action are needed. Concerning the details of the project, the master plan, all these little questions, this is up to you, to the people you can attract on this, to the people already there, because it’s about auto-organisation. Not dis-organisation at all though, you will find that we have a goal, a mission and there are rules and values to follow. This is something very usual nowadays in open projects.
The project is not the one of a person, everybody can contribute with anything. I prefer the term Medolo initiative.
If you have not, watch the how.
Then have de look to the request for help pages and to the others main part : Knowledge garden (and café), The way we do it and Collaborative streams.
Finally I recommend you watch the 3 min video of a Prezi presentation. [here]
– This page is available as a [pdf file] that you can download and diffuse. –