How to protect intellectual property on plants ? European Seed Association calls upon Council and Parliament to use EU Patent to foster research and innovation
May 8, 2012
European Parliament draft resolution on patentability of plant breeding processes to be voted on Thursday could help break the deadlock on the Council’s discussions on the future EU Patent
For quite some time now, the legislative process on the adoption of the long awaited new EU Patent has been blocked in Council, mainly due to differences of key Member States on the seat of the future related Court which amongst other countries is claimed by Germany and France. This blockage has also resulted in the strange situation that a point of broad agreement of not only Member States but also almost all political groups in the European Parliament still has not made it into the most recent texts of both institutions.
“The need to allow for further research and breeding with plant material, even where this is protected by IP rights, is a cornerstone of the European plant breeding sector’s position on intellectual property protection for plants and seed” explains Garlich v. Essen, Secretary General of the European Seed Association.
This principle is enshrined in the EU’s specific plant breeders’ rights legislation – but is missing from the current texts for the future EU patent. Consequently, ESA has proposed to add such a “breeder’s exemption” to the provisions of the new IP instrument - and has received widespread support for it. “We had a positive vote of the EP’s Research Committee, we have support from the rapporteur and shadow rapporteur in the EP, we know of numerous Member States that would welcome such an addition to the Council’s text – what we still need is that both institutions realise that such an addition will not put the overall agreement on the EU patent at risk but will rather support it.” von Essen describes the current task.
The debate on an EP resolution on the patentability of plants is therefore seen as an opportunity to once again underline the sector’s needs: ESA requests the addition of a limited breeders exemption into the EU Patent law as well as a consequent implementation of the limitation of patentability to real biotechnological inventions, i.e. excluding ‘classical’ breeding processes as well as resulting products.
With such an amendment to the EU Patent as well as further clarification by the European Patent Office, ESA sees no major need for further legislative work. “It is a great opportunity for EP and Council to tie up some loose ends without having to go through a full scale legislative review of the respective rules” von Essen describes the plant breeding sector’s position.
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Published: May 8, 2012
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