Group Says Industry, EPO Finding Loopholes To Patent Seeds, Plants

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A new report by civil society group No Patent on Seeds was issued yesterday alleging that industry and patent examiners in the European Patent Office are “using legal loopholes to grant patents on seeds, plants and even harvest and food products derived thereof.”

The report entitled “European Patent Office at Crossroads” [pdf], says that by the end of 2011, “nearly 2000 patents on plants and around 1200 patents on animals were granted by the EPO.”

This, despite a decision [pdf] of the EPO Enlarged Board of Appeal in 2010 which the group says gave “a binding interpretation of the prohibition of patents on essentially biological processes for the production of plants and animals.”

According to a press release, “these patents are blocking access to biological diversity, hampering innovation, reducing choice for farmers and introducing new dependencies for food producers and consumers.”

The group is calling for the European Parliament and the European Commission to step in, in particular in the light of the Directive 98/44/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 July 1998 on the legal protection of biotechnological inventions.

Catherine Saez may be reached at

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