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Parliamentary questions
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16 January 2019
Question for written answer P-000180-19
to the Commission
Rule 130
Jan Huitema (ALDE)

 Subject:  Patents on vegetables and plants
 Answer in writing 

Directive 98/44/EC affords patent protection to biotechnological inventions. As the Commission states in its Notice of 8 November 2016, it was never the intention to grant patents on natural properties obtained naturally by crossing plants. In response to this, the European Patent Office (EPO) altered its policy in Implementing Regulation 28(2) so as not to grant patents for products of essentially biological processes.

In December 2018, the Technical Board of Appeal of the EPO concluded that the policy that the EPO had recently adapted in Implementing Regulation 28(2) should not be implemented and that patents could be granted on natural properties of plants.

Does the Commission still agree that barrier-free access to plant material is essential for the innovative capacity of the European plant-breeding sector, as well as for the genetic variety of our crops?

Does the Commission agree that this decision by the Technical Board of Appeal contradicts the interpretation of Directive 98/44/EC given in the Commission Notice of 8 November 2016?

Will the Commission take steps to reconcile the interpretation of the European Patent Convention and its implementation by the EPO with Directive 98/44/EC again with regard to the exclusion of patenting of the products of essentially biological processes? If so, what steps?

Original language of question: NL 
Last updated: 18 January 2019Legal notice