Procedure : 2019/2800(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : B9-0044/2019

Texts tabled :

B9-0044/2019

Debates :

Votes :

PV 19/09/2019 - 7.4
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

P9_TA(2019)0020

<Date>{16/09/2019}16.9.2019</Date>
<NoDocSe>B9‑0044/2019</NoDocSe>
PDF 129kWORD 53k

<TitreType>MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION</TitreType>

<TitreSuite>further to Question for Oral Answer B9‑0051/2019</TitreSuite>

<TitreRecueil>pursuant to Rule 136(5) of the Rules of Procedure</TitreRecueil>


<Titre>on the patentability of plants and essentially biological processes</Titre>

<DocRef>(2019/2800(RSP))</DocRef>


<RepeatBlock-By><Depute>Paolo De Castro</Depute>

<Commission>{S&D}on behalf of the S&D Group</Commission>

</RepeatBlock-By>

See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B9-0040/2019

B9‑0044/2019

European Parliament resolution on the patentability of plants and essentially biological processes

(2019/2800(RSP))

The European Parliament,

 having regard to its resolution of 10 May 2012 on the patenting of essential biological processes[1],

 having regard to its resolution of 17 December 2015 on patents and plant breeders’ rights[2],

 having regard to Directive 98/44/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 July 1998 on the legal protection of biotechnological inventions[3], which sets out principles on the patentability of the human body and its parts, of animals and of plants, in particular Article 4 thereof, which states that products obtained from essentially biological processes are not patentable,

 having regard to the European Patent Convention (EPC) of 5 October 1973, in particular Article 53(b) thereof,

 having regard to the Implementing Regulations to the EPC of 5 October 1973, in particular Rule 26 thereof, which states that for European patent applications and patents concerning biotechnological inventions, Directive 98/44/EC is to be used as a supplementary means of interpretation,

 having regard to the decision of the Administrative Council of the European Patent Office (EPO) of 29 June 2017 amending Rules 27 and 28 of the Implementing Regulations to the European Patent Convention (CA/D 6/17),

 having regard to the referral of a point of law to the Enlarged Board of Appeal by the President of the European Patent Office (Article 112(1)(b) EPC),

 having regard to the question to the Commission on the patentability of plants and essential biological processes (O-000026/2019 – B9‑0051/2019),

 having regard to Rules 136(5) and 132(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas access to biological plant and animal breeding material is absolutely necessary for boosting innovation and for the development of new varieties and races in order to guarantee global food security and prevent monopolies within the animal and plant breeding sectors, while at the same time providing more opportunities for SMEs and farmers;

B. whereas farmers and seed breeders need simple access to breeding material for breeding plants in local and ultra-local conditions in order to enhance resilience in the face of climate change effects on weather and water availability, and threats from new parasites and new plant diseases;

C. whereas plant and animal breeding is a process that has been – and continues to be – practised by farmers and farming communities since the birth of agriculture, and whereas unpatented varieties and breeding methods are important for genetic diversity;

D. whereas patents may be granted in the field of genetic engineering, but the prohibition of patents on plant and animal varieties must be safeguarded;

E. whereas products obtained from essentially biological processes, such as plants, seeds, native traits and genes, should be excluded from patentability;

F. whereas Directive 98/44/EC legislates for biotechnological inventions, in particular genetic engineering, but whereas it was not the legislator’s intention to allow for the patentability of products obtained from essentially biological processes within the scope of the directive;

G. whereas numerous applications concerning products obtained from essentially biological processes are currently awaiting a decision by the EPO; whereas the EPO urgently needs to clarify its rules on the matter;

H whereas up until 1 October 2019 third parties may send observations to the Enlarged Board of Appeal on the issue of questions sent to it by the President of the EPO seeking legal clarification on the matter of the patentability of essentially biological processes;

1. Expresses its deep concern that the decision of the Technical Board of Appeal of the EPO on the patentability of plants of 5 December 2018 (T 1063/18) provides for the possibility to grant patents in respect of natural traits introduced into new varieties by means of essentially biological processes such as crossing and selection;

2. Considers that internal decision-making rules of the EPO cannot undermine democratic political control of European patent law and its interpretation or the legislator’s intent as clarified by the Commission Notice on certain articles of Directive 98/44/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the legal protection of biotechnological inventions[4];

3. Calls on the Enlarged Board of Appeal of the EPO to restore legal certainty in the interests of the users of the European patent system and the public, by answering positively the two questions laid down in the referral of a point of law to the Enlarged Board of Appeal by the President of the EPO (Article 112(1)(b) EPC);

4. Calls on the Commission to file the necessary observations and statements in order to reaffirm under the Enlarged Board of Appeal of the EPO that no patents should be granted for the products of essentially biological processes such as crossing and selection, for example for natural traits that are introduced into plants by means of such processes;

5. Calls on the Commission to send observations within the time limit to the Enlarged Board of Appeal of the EPO in relation to Case G3/19 on the patenting of plants exclusively obtained by means of an essentially biological process, following the conclusions of its aforementioned Notice;

6. Calls on the Commission to pursue the exclusion from patentability of essentially biological processes in the context of discussions on the harmonisation of multilateral patent law;

7. Calls on the Commission to pursue the exclusion from patentability of essentially biological processes and the products thereof when negotiating trade and partnership agreements with third countries;

8. Calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure that the Union will safeguard guaranteed access to, and use of, material obtained from essentially biological processes for plant breeding, in order – where applicable – not to interfere with practices guaranteeing the exemption for breeders;

9. Calls on the Commission to report on the development and implications of patent law in the field of biotechnology and genetic engineering, as required under Article 16(c) of Directive 98/44/EC and as requested by Parliament in its resolutions of 10 May 2012 on the patenting of essential biological processes and of 17 December 2015 on patents and plant breeders’ rights;

10. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the European Patent Office.

[1] OJ C 261E, 10.9.2013, p. 31.

[2] OJ C 399, 24.11.2017, p. 188.

[3] OJ L 213, 30.7.1998, p. 13.

[4] OJ C 411, 8.11.2016, p. 3.

Last updated: 17 September 2019Legal notice