KWS clearly welcomes the decision by the Enlarged Board of Appeal of the European Patent Office. After a decade of legal uncertainty, it now creates clarity and is fully in line with KWS’ long-standing IP position, which advocates a regulation to this effect that ensures further breeding progress and diversity.
The possibility of patenting technological inventions in plant breeding is important because it enables long-term and cost-intensive research projects – plus it incentivizes their financing. Ideally, Patent protection should not extend to native traits, because the man-made inventiveness feature is lacking.
In order to breed new varieties with better characteristics, breeders need the greatest possible diversity of genetic source materials. Under the Plant Variety Protection system, genetic diversity of innovative new commercial varieties is freely available through the Breeders’ Exemption. In most countries, however, when a variety that is protected under the Plant Variety protection system also contains a Patented trait, then the Breeder’s Exemption is blocked during the duration of the patent.
Accordingly, KWS stands up for regulating IP rights in ways to that ensure that further breeding progress and diversity are safeguarded, as with the Breeder’s Exemption. At the same time, Patents should not be used to create monopolies; they should be used to encourage sustainable innovation for the benefit of society.