10.25.15

EPO Slammed for Granting Patents on Life

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Mo’ patents, mo’ money, mo’ problems, so monopolists, the EPO, and patent lawyers benefit, respectively, at the expense of everybody else

Bell peppers

Summary: New opposition to the EPO’s continued expansion of patent scope to plants/seeds and various foods, serving to monopolise even the very essential elements of life and potentially increasing prices of basic foods

OUR criticism of the EPO began nearly a decade ago, primarily because of software patents in Europe (the campaign against them culminated little more than 10 years ago). This is part of an international problem that so-called ‘trade’ deals like the TPP (globalisation in the interest of very few rich people) serve to promote. But since then we have criticised the EPO for many other things; among them were patents on life, which are equally controversial (even among programmers, not just in life science disciplines). We wrote a great deal about it back in 2009 and when the EPO entered the fray with this abomination of an expansion of patent scope we spoke out again. It’s all in our archives. Now there’s news as things get even worse.

“Just how much longer can EPO management flagrantly stretch the scope of patents in a shameless effort to increase revenue and pretend that innovation is on the rise when in fact it’s monopolisation and protectionism (food monopolies) that are on the rise?”A reader has suggested that we remind people of patents on plants, potentially “the next EPO scandal” because it’s still work in progress (an internal subject of debate). Just how much longer can EPO management flagrantly stretch the scope of patents in a shameless effort to increase revenue and pretend that innovation is on the rise when in fact it’s monopolisation and protectionism (food monopolies) that are on the rise?

One of our readers has taken stock of coverage about this issue, dating back even to 2013.

“On May 8, 2013,” said this reader, “the EPO granted a patent (EP 2140023 B1) to Syngenta for insect-resistant pepper plants [PDF]. According to critics: “Such plants should definitely not be patentable under European patent law.””

“A broad coalition consisting of 34 NGOs,” continued this reader, “farmers’ and breeders’ organisations from 27 European countries, filed an opposition to the Syngenta pepper patent.” [1, 2]

“A question was also asked in the European Parliament. Here is the answer from the EU Commission.” [by Barnier, a huge UPC proponent]

“The topic was covered by IPKat in August 2014. In May of this year, Glyn Moody wrote a piece about the EPO’s current questionable practices concerning the patenting of plants. The topic has now resurfaced again with the recent grant of another questionable pepper patent to Syngenta.” [1, 2] (articles from 2-3 days ago)

“The specification of the most recently granted patent can be found here.” [PDF].

Even though Techrights covered these issues more than a year ago they seem to be resurfacing and getting even worse. The EPO is clearly out of control because of greed. Its priority is not to serve the public or provide a service in the public’s interest; instead it helps large corporations (like the infamous Monsanto) besiege and rip off the public.

How does one say in French “let them eat patents”?

“As far as genetic engineering for food, that is the great experiment that has failed. They literally have the entire world market against them. All those dreams… the blind will see, the lame will walk… has turned out to be science fiction. They are basically chemical companies selling more chemicals. They’ve been able to spread these herbicide-promoting plants around because it is more convenient for farmers who can just mass-spray their crops. But they’ve given absolutely nothing to the consumer while causing more chemical pollution and contamination.”

Lawyer, Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety (USA)

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