EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

02.08.19

Teff is Not an Invention. Teff is Nature.

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:40 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Last year: Stop Patenting Life, Nature is Not an Invention

Teff

“Eragrostis tef, also known as teff, Williams’ lovegrass or annual bunch grass, is an annual grass, a species of lovegrass native to Ethiopia and Eritrea.” Wikipedia on Teff

Summary: The absurdity of ‘owning’ nature or things that are found in nature (and can reproduce) demonstrated again in Europe

Ethiopia’s Addis Standard has just published this new article about the European Patent Office (EPO) and the teff controversy we alluded to in the past. This is what we ought to call patent “piracy”. When the patents themselves are an act of piracy… patents on life/nature, privatising what’s in the Commons. Ancient seeds… suddenly ‘owned’ by foreign countries or colonialism guarded by patent monopolies that the nation is blackmailed to recognise (by WTO, WIPO and so on).

As Addis Standard put it, “it seems highly unlikely the EPO would have granted the patent if they had this information on file when reviewing the patent application.”

Did they have sufficient time to assess all the facts however? Nowadays examiners complain that they cannot do their work properly. To quote Addis Standard:

On May 19, 2018, the Ethiopian government gave its Attorney General the green light to initiate an international arbitration proceeding against a company holding a series of European patents directed at the grain teff. And on November 21, 2018, a court in The Hague invalidated two of the company’s Dutch patents. For most observers, the news that some obscure company with little connection to Ethiopia, the home of teff, has patented the naturally occurring grain, and as such possesses the legal rights to exclude others from making, using, selling or importing the grain, its flour and any food product made from it, may seem entirely odd. For most Ethiopians, who have cultivated the grain and consumed it as the staple diet injera for millennia, however, the patenting is nothing short of daylight robbery, an act of cultural appropriation made even more objectionable by the whiff of colonial effluvium emanating from the European (Dutch) citizenship of the patentee, Health and Performance Food International B.V. (HPFI). In view of this, it may come as a surprise to many that Ethiopia shares at least some of the blame for HPFI’s patenting of teff, as HPFI was motivated to do so by its mid-2000s agreement with the Ethiopian government to commercialize teff in the western world as a gluten-free food product.

Now that the government is finally moving to address the issue, this article aims to provide some clarity on how the patents were obtained, the scope of the intellectual property (IP) coverage they provide, the invalidation of the Dutch patents and the legal recourse available for the Ethiopian state to invalidate the rest of the patents.

[...]

Increasing the quality of teff by storing it after harvesting, however, is nothing new (even by July 2003 when the first patent application was filed), as any teff farmer in Ethiopia can attest. In Ethiopia, farmers usually store a given season’s harvest for sale and/or consumption during the coming season, as it is common knowledge in the country that when possible, teff should be stored after harvesting to improve its quality. As such, what the inventor claimed, and for which he received patent protection, was neither novel nor inventive, as it has been known and practiced in Ethiopia for millennia. Granted, all that knowledge may not have been documented, which is what patent examiners usually depend on when considering a patent application. All the same, it seems highly unlikely the EPO would have granted the patent if they had this information on file when reviewing the patent application. The EPO had in fact rejected the application initially, but relented only when the patent applicant argued that the minimum falling number of 250 was a “clearly novel and inventive” feature in view of what was known at the time,[8] which, as we just saw was not the case.[9]

This kind of patent is why many people protest outside the EPO. Surely it can’t be overlooked or ignored when EU officials too oppose this.

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

What Else is New


  1. Links 20/2/2019: digiKam 6.0.0, Cockpit 188, Mesa 19.0 RC5

    Links for the day



  2. How Long Can the EPO Bend the Rules Before the Avalanche of Invalid Software Patents?

    A 35 U.S.C. § 101/SCOTUS moment in Europe will likely squash loads of abstract European Patents granted by the EPO; shouldn’t the EPO foresee this and immediately cease granting such obviously bogus patents, whose main beneficiary is a bunch of patent trolls?



  3. Battistelli Trashed 223 Millions (of Stakeholders' Euros) on a System That Destroyed the European Patent Office and Made Few Private Corporations a Lot Richer

    A quarter of a billion euros later the EPO finally admits in private that this was a massive failure



  4. Links 19/2/2019: Mesa 18.3.4, Cutelyst 2.7.0, Plasma Pass 1.0.0

    Links for the day



  5. What Happened in the United States Now Happens in Europe: Lots of Patents Turn Out to Be Bunk, Fake, Bogus, Invalid and Thus Worthless

    Worthless patents — not opposition to such patents — are the greatest threat to the legitimacy of the patent system, yet bureaucrats fail to heed the warning in the name of short-term profits



  6. Stephen Rowan's and Nellie Simon's Letter to EPO Staff: eDossier Has “Not Reached the Required Quality Levels.”

    We've just commented on it; here is the raw letter in full, explaining that eDossier and related frameworks will be abandoned entirely and indefinitely within less than a fortnight



  7. Search Matters Not at the European Patent Office

    The EPO has found out that "System Battistelli" has been catastrophic for the quality of patents; it stops short of openly admitting it as such and in fact it keeps the message strictly confidential (explained to insiders, who will inevitably notice a system being abandoned)



  8. António Campinos Still Needs to Undo Battistelli's Union-Busting Activities at the EPO

    Solidarity and support for Laurent Prunier are needed because the new French president lacks empathy even for fellow Frenchmen whose sole 'crime' is that they represented EPO staff



  9. Links 18/2/2019: Linux 5.0 RC7, RISC-V Spreading Fast

    Links for the day



  10. António Campinos Still Needs to Hold Team Battistelli Accountable for Illegally Bringing Weapons to the EPO

    It is imperative that, in order to repair the reputation of the European Patent Office (EPO), António Campinos should pursue accountability for the managers who brought Benalla and firearms to the Office (very serious breach of German law, jail sentence included)



  11. Links 17/2/2019: Compiz 0.9.14.0, Geary 0.13.0, GNU FreeDink 109.6, Debian 9.8, Texinfo 6.6

    Links for the day



  12. Amazon's Patent Policy Should be Enough of a Reason to Boycott Amazon and AWS

    There are many things to criticise Amazon and its founder for; but rarely does the mainstream media bring up the company's appalling patent policy



  13. Don't Use Cloudflare Because You Impose This on People Who Least Want It

    Reasons to stop making the World Wide Web so heavily dependent on some dubious companies like Cloudflare, which already has a worrisome track record



  14. How Many/Most EPO Examiners View 'President' António Campinos

    Based on what readers/insiders have told us, there’s a prevalent perception that António Campinos is afraid of (thus controlled/directed by) Bergot, who is still doing Battistelli’s biddings at the European Patent Office (EPO)



  15. Techrights' Priorities Over the Years

    An old priority of ours, eliminating software patents in the United States, is no longer quite so relevant because such patents are perishing in US courts, with or without outside intervention such as activism



  16. Courts in Disagreement: Warning on Wrongly-Granted European Patents and the Looming Collapse of All Software Patents in Europe

    By devaluing patents and reducing their perceived worth (as is happening in China and Europe) patent offices risk decreasing participation in the very system they fundamentally depend on



  17. Computing Will Not Necessarily Make the World a Better Place

    The vision of "happy world" (because each person has a so-called 'smart' 'phone') is a yuppie delusion that overlooks business models and corporate interests



  18. EPO Grants Fake European Patents -- Including Software Patents -- and European Courts Keep Rejecting These

    The demise of the legitimacy or perceived validity of European Patents is measurable and the system isn't the same anymore; the EPO makes no effort to change this for the better, either



  19. Nobody But Patent Trolls and Litigators Will Benefit From the Corruption of the European Patent Office

    IAM, EPO leadership, Iancu and the rest of these raiders are enabling corruption and facilitating or supporting a racket; that money they collect comes at the expense of future victims of their "clients" or "customers" (that's what they call applicants, to whom they grant dubious monopolies as a matter of urgency)



  20. WSL is a Misleading Acronym/Name Because There's No Linux in It, It's Just Windows

    When Microsoft says "Linux" (as in "Microsoft loves Linux") what it actually means is Windows and/or Azure



  21. Links 16/2/2019: Ubuntu 18.04.2 LTS, PyCharm 2019.1 EAP 4

    Links for the day



  22. Outline/Index of the Alexandre Benalla/Battistelli Scandal

    Our writings about the scandals implicating Benalla and the European Patent Office (EPO)



  23. Reading Techrights on a Mobile Device Running Android

    A new Android app for reading this site is being tested



  24. Links 14/2/2019: “I Love Free Software Day” and Mesa 19.0 RC4 Released

    Links for the day



  25. “EPO Lawlessness Again”

    Blackberry uses bogus European Patents (on software) for lawsuits; "all of them pure software patents. Patents on programs for computers as such," as Müller puts it



  26. Unitary Patent (UPC) is All About Imposing Patent Maximalists' Ideology of Greed and Self Interest on Courts in the Name of 'Unification' or 'Consistency' or 'Community'

    Pushers of the Unified Patent Court (UPC) are upset that they don’t always get their way when independent judges get to decide; as it turns out, many European Patents are just fake patents, more so under António Campinos



  27. Battistelli's Bodyguard, Part V: Mediapart Explains the 'Raid' Attempt, Reporters Without Borders Involved

    Mediapart, an investigative site that unearths a lot of incriminating things about Battistelli's former bodyguard Alexandre Benalla, was the target of a raid attempt some weeks ago



  28. Links 13/2/2019: Tails 3.12.1, MongoDB Being Dumped

    Links for the day



  29. Battistelli's Bodyguard, Part IV: Suspected Offenses of Forgery and Possible Falsification

    In a very underworld fashion, Benalla continues to break the law and create yet more scandals



  30. Battistelli's Bodyguard, Part III: Mars, France Close Protection (Benalla's Family), and Russian Oligarchy

    An article which examines the business background of Benalla, the outrageous salaries, the severance indemnity pay, and contract with a Russian oligarch close to Vladimir Putin


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts