Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Intellectual property protection for plant-related inventions in Europe

Abstract

The economic and political issues that accompany the commercial growing of genetically modified crops, as well as the risk of transgene spread, are often top of the agenda for debate. But one important aspect is frequently overlooked — the intellectual property protection of plant-related inventions. What protection does European patent law afford to such inventions, how does it compare with the United States law and what are the consequences of the differences between them?

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

$32.00

All prices are NET prices.

References

  1. Giles, J. UK experts map out route to licensing transgenic crops. Nature 424, 358 (2003).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. Americans angered by European curbs on GM. The Independent (3 July 2003).

  3. International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA). [online], (cited 22 Aug. 2003), <http://www.isaaa.org> (2003).

  4. Nap, J -P., Metz, P. L. J., Escaler, M. & Conner, A. The release of genetically modified crops into the environment. Plant J. 33, 1–18 (2003).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Directive 98/44/EC of the European Parliament and the Council on the Legal Protection of Biotechnological Inventions. Official Journal of the European Patent Office 101 (1999).

  6. Patent law in the field of biotechnology and genetic engineering: commission report. [online], (cited 05 Sep. 2003), <http://europa.eu.int/scadplus/leg/en/lvb/l26026a.htm> (2003).

  7. European Patent Office. Convention on the Grant of European Patents (European Patent Convention) 11th edn (2003).

  8. Union International pour la Protection des Obtentions Vegetales (UPOV). International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants of December 2, 1961, as revised in Geneva on November 10, 1972, on October 23, 1978 and on March 19, 1991. UPOV Publication No. 221 (1991).

  9. Union International pour la Protection des Obtentions Vegetales (UPOV). Article 1(vi) of the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants of December 2, 1961, as revised in Geneva on November 10, 1972, on October 23, 1978 and on March 19, 1991. UPOV Publication No. 221 (1991).

  10. Decision of the EPO Enlarged Board of Appeal G1/98, Novartis. Official Journal of the European Patent Office 111 (2000).

  11. Union International pour la Protection des Obtentions Vegetales (UPOV). Article 5(1) of the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants of December 2, 1961, as revised in Geneva on November 10, 1972, on October 23, 1978 and on March 19, 1991. UPOV Publication No. 221 (1991).

  12. Union International pour la Protection des Obtentions Vegetales (UPOV). Article 19 of the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants of December 2, 1961, as revised in Geneva on November 10, 1972, on October 23, 1978 and on March 19, 1991. UPOV Publication No. 221 (1991).

  13. Union International pour la Protection des Obtentions Vegetales (UPOV). Article 15 of the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants of December 2, 1961, as revised in Geneva on November 10, 1972, on October 23, 1978 and on March 19, 1991. UPOV Publication No. 221 (1991).

  14. The Council of the European Union. European Council Regulation (EC) No. 2100/94 on community plant variety rights. Official Journal of the European Communities L227, 0001–0030 (1994).

  15. The Council of the European Union. Article 6 of the European Council Regulation (EC) No. 2100/94 on community plant variety rights. Official Journal of the European Communities L227, 0001–0030 (1994).

  16. European Patent Office. Decision of the EPO Technical Board of Appeal T356/93, plant genetic systems/glutamine synthetase inhibitors. Official Journal of the European Patent Office 545 (1995).

  17. European Patent Office. Decision of the EPO Technical Board of Appeal T19/90, Harvard mouse. Official Journal of the European Patent Office 476 (1990).

  18. European Patent Office. Decision of the EPO Enlarged Board of Appeal G3/95, plant genetics systems. Official Journal of the European Patent Office 11 (1998).

  19. European Patent Office. Article 4 of Directive 98/44/EC of the European Parliament and the Council on the Legal Protection of Biotechnological Inventions. Official Journal of the European Patent Office 101 (1999).

  20. European Patent Office. Article 2(3), Recitals (30) and (31) of Directive 98/44/EC of the European Parliament and the Council on the Legal Protection of Biotechnological Inventions. Official Journal of the European Patent Office 101 (1999).

  21. European Patent Office. Decision of the EPO Technical Board of Appeal T1054/96. Official Journal of the European Patent Office 511 (1998).

  22. Particle-mediated transformation of soybean plants and lines in the name of Monsanto. Patent EP301749 (1998).

  23. European Patent Office. Article 83 of the Convention on the Grant of European Patents (European Patent Convention) 11th edn (2003).

  24. The European Patent Office. “Soya” patent limited after hearing in opposition proceedings before the European Patent Office. [online], (cited 22 Aug. 2003), <http://www.european-patent-office.org/news/pressrel/2003_05_06_e.htm> (2003).

  25. Holtdorf, S., Apel, K. & Bohlman, H. Comparison of different constitutive and inducible promoters for the overexpression of transgenes in Arabidopsis thaliana. Plant Mol. Biol. 26, 637–646 (1995).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Kowalski, S. P., Ebora, R. V., Kryder, R. D. & Potter, R. H. Transgenic crops, biotechnology and ownership rights: what scientists need to know. Plant J. 31, 407–421 (2002).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  27. European Patent Office. Article 23 c(a) of the Convention on the Grant of European patents (European Patent Convention) 11th edn (2003).

  28. The Arabidopsis Genome Initiative. Analysis of the Arabidopsis genome. Nature 408, 796–815 (2000).

  29. Goff, S. A. et al. A draft sequence of the rice genome (Oryza sativa L. ssp. indica). Science 296, 92–100 (2002).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  30. Yu, J. et al. A draft sequence of the rice genome (Oryza sativa L. ssp. japonica). Science 296, 79–91 (2002).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  31. The European Patent Office. Trilateral report on the patentability of nucleic acids. [online], (cited 22 Aug. 2003) <http://www.european-patent-office.org/tws/report/report_start_page.htm> (2000).

  32. United States Department of Agriculture Plant Variety Protection Office. United States Plant Variety Protection Act (as amended 1994) and regulations and rules of practice. [online], (cited 22 Aug. 2003), <http://www.ams.usda.gov/science/pvpo/PVPO_Act/PVPA.htm> (1994).

  33. The United States Plant Patent Act. Title 35 of the United States Code Part II, Chapter 15, Section 161–164 (2000).

  34. The United States Utility Patent Act. Title 35 of the United States Code (2000).

  35. The United States Patent Act. Title 35 of the United States Code Section 101 (2000).

  36. Diamond v. Chakrabarty 447 USPQ 303 United States Supreme Court (1980).

  37. Ex parte Hibberd 227 USPQ 443 Bd. Pat. App. & Inter. (1985).

  38. J. E. M. AG Supply, Inc. et al. v. Pioneer Hi-bred International Inc. No. 99–1996 United States Supreme Court (10 December 2001).

  39. Janis, M. D. & Kesan, J. P. Intellectual property protection for plant innovation: unresolved issues after J. E. M. v. Pioneer. Nature Biotechnol. 20, 1161–1164 (2002).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  40. Sechley, K. & Schroeder, H. Intellectual property protection of plant biotechnology inventions. Trends Biotechnol. 20, 456–461 (2002).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  41. Monsanto Canada Inc. v. Schmeiser et al. 2002 FCA 309 Federal Court of Appeal (4 September 2002).

  42. Monsanto v. McFarling No. 01–1390 Fed. Cir. (23 Aug 2002).

  43. Recital 47 of Directive 98/44/EC of the European Parliament and the Council on the Legal Protection of Biotechnological Inventions. Official Journal of the European Patent Office 101 (1999).

  44. Potrykus, I. Golden rice and beyond. Plant Physiology 125, 1157–1161 (2001).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  45. Nuffield Council on Bioethics. The use of genetically modified crops in developing countries. [online], (cited 22 Aug. 2003), <http://www.nuffieldbioethics.org> (2003).

  46. Reid, B. C. A Practical Guide to Patent Law 1–10 (Sweet and Maxwell, London, 1999).

    Google Scholar 

  47. The European Commission. European legislative framework for GMOs is now in place. [online], (cited 22 Aug. 2003), <http://www.europa.eu.int/rapid/start/cgi/guesten.ksh?p_action.gettxt=gt&doc=IP/03/1056|0|RAPID&lg=EN&display=> (2003).

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Barbara Fleck.

Related links

Related links

FURTHER INFORMATION

European Patent Office

UPOV

UPOV Convention

USPTO

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Fleck, B., Baldock, C. Intellectual property protection for plant-related inventions in Europe. Nat Rev Genet 4, 834–838 (2003). https://doi.org/10.1038/nrg1184

Download citation

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/nrg1184

Search

Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing