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Patent office criticised over plant variety rules

A pressure group opposed to the patenting of plant varieties created through natural breeding processes has criticised the European Patent Office’s actions in this area and called for tougher rules.

The EPO has been “putting its own interests (it generates income from fees) and those of its ‘business partners’ (industry and patent attorneys) above the interests of the public, political decision-making and existing law”, the lobby group No Patents On Seeds alleged in its report, published on 25 March.

This is because the EPO has been granting patents on plants obtained through conventional breeding processes even though its administrative council decided in 2017 that this should be prohibited, the group said. It called on the EPO and its 37 member countries to strengthen the rules in this area and to clarify the EPO’s definitions of natural breeding processes.

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