Plants and animals that are produced only by “essentially biological processes” are not patentable, the European Patent Office (EPO) ruled Friday, a decisive blow to multinational biotech firms selling genetically modified crops.
António Campinos, president of the EPO, said the 70-page opinion from the EPO’s board of appeal “will bring greater legal certainty for patent applicants, and the general public, on what is a sensitive and complex issue that has legal, societal and economic implications.”
The EPO had first opened the possibility of granting patent protection to conventional, GMO plants in 2015, after attempts to register tomatoes with reduced water content by the consumer goods giant Unilever and broccoli growing with a selective increase of the anticarcinogenic glucosinolates by the global agrochemical company Syngenta.
The EPO said it will “act in accordance with the clarifications provided in [its board of appeals] opinion and implement them in its examination practice in close consultation with stakeholders. Proceedings in examination and opposition which were stayed while the referral was pending will be gradually resumed.”
Check out the biotechnology patents at the EPO