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Data Release Policy

Ten centers in Japan, the United Kingdom, Canada, China, and the United States are genotyping the samples. Five different genotyping technologies are being used, and the Project is following strict quality control standards to ensure that the data generated are of high quality. The data being generated by the Project are the new SNPs identified, the genotypes of the 270 individual DNA samples for about 3 million SNPs, the frequencies of SNPs and haplotypes in each population, and the tag SNPs used to identify haplotypes.

All data generated by the Project will be released into the public domain. The new SNPs and the genotype frequencies of the SNPs are being publicly released quickly through the public NIH Single Nucleotide Polymorphism Database (dbSNP). When SNPs have been genotyped densely enough to define regions of strong association, the haplotypes, individual genotypes, and tag SNPs in those regions will be released publicly without restrictions. Before regions have been analyzed in enough detail to identify haplotypes, data on individual genotypes are being made available under a data access policy that imposes minimal constraints. Through a "click-wrap" agreement on the Internet, users must agree not to reduce others' access to the data and to share the data only with others who have made the same agreement. Clicking the "I accept" button binds the researchers and their employers to the terms of the license. This restriction on the use of the HapMap data has been designed only to ensure that the data will continue to be available to all researchers. At the end of the Project, expected to be in late 2005, any data that have not been fully released will be made public through the public DNA database.

The participants in the Project believe that patents should not be issued for a SNP or haplotype for which a "specific utility" -- as defined in patent law -- has not been generated. However, if a specific utility can be demonstrated for a SNP or haplotype, any group, whether associated with the Project or not, should be able to apply for a patent, as long as this action does not prevent others from obtaining access to data from the Project.

The Project does not include studies designed to relate genetic variants to medically relevant traits. Thus, results that might be patentable can be obtained only through additional studies not connected with the HapMap Project. Participants in the Project have agreed that they will not use HapMap data for other projects in their laboratories before the data are publicly released. Project participants have access to HapMap data under the same terms as all other users.

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