Procedure : 2019/2800(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : O-000026/2019

Texts tabled :

O-000026/2019 (B9-0051/2019)

Debates :

PV 16/09/2019 - 17
CRE 16/09/2019 - 16
CRE 16/09/2019 - 17

Votes :

Texts adopted :


Parliamentary questions
PDF 41kWORD 19k
9 September 2019
O-000026/2019

Question for oral answer O-000026/2019

to the Commission

Rule 136

Norbert Lins

on behalf of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development


  Subject: Patentability of plants and essential biological processes

 Answer in plenary 

Barrier-free access to plant material is essential for the innovative capacity of the European plant-breeding sector and farmers, as well as for the genetic variety of our crops and the health of EU citizens.

In 2015, the Enlarged Board of Appeal of the European Patent Office (EPO) ruled that products obtained from essentially biological processes, such as plants, seeds, native traits and genes, are patentable. On the basis of this decision, a broccoli and a tomato variety were effectively patented (Cases G2/12 (tomatoes) and G2/13 (broccoli)).

In response, the European Parliament adopted a resolution[1] on 17 December 2015 calling for clarification of patent law for plants. In its Notice of 8 November 2016, the Commission stated that it was never the intention to grant patents on natural traits that are introduced into plants by means of essentially biological processes such as crossing and selection. All Member States supported this reading and the Board of Directors of the EPO eventually amended its policy so as not to grant patents on products from essentially biological processes.

Unfortunately, the Technical Board of Appeal of the EPO rejected this decision on 18 December 2018, arguing that the European Patent Convention takes precedence over the EPO’s implementing rules and that patents on plants may therefore be granted.

At this stage, the President of the EPO has requested a final judgement from the Enlarged Board of Appeal to conclude the issue. Third parties are entitled to submit written statements on the matter to the Enlarged Board before 1 October 2019.

Does the Commission intend to submit a written statement to the Enlarged Board of Appeal of the EPO in order to protect the innovative capacity of the European plant-breeding sector and the general public interest?

What action does the Commission envisage taking to ensure that products resulting from natural processes are not patentable?

Tabled: 9.9.2019

Forwarded: 11.9.2019

Deadline for reply: 18.9.2019

[1]  OJ C 399, 24.11.2017, p. 188.

Last updated: 11 September 2019Legal notice