The European Patent Office (EPO) has revoked a Bayer patent that covered traditionally bred broccoli adapted for the ease of harvesting.
The patent, which was granted to Monsanto in 2013 and later sold to Bayer, covered plants, seeds and harvested severed broccoli heads that grow slightly higher in order to ease harvesting. An opposition to the patent was originally filed in 2014.
No Patents on Seeds protested the patent by erecting the “largest broccoli in the world” outside of the EPO building in Munich. A petition with around 75,000 signatures supporting opposition to the patent was also handed over.
The EPO introduced new rules for examination in 2017, which mean that patents on animals and plants can no longer be granted if they are derived from conventional breeding using methods like crossing and selection. European law prohibits patents on plant varieties and animal varieties.
This first time the new rules have resulted in the revocation of a patent.
Commenting on the news, Christoph Then of No Patents on Seeds said: “This is an important success for the broad coalition of civil society organisations against patents on plants and animals.”
“Without our activities, the EPO rules would not have been changed and the patent would still be valid. The giant corporations, such as Bayer, Syngenta and BASF, have failed in their attempt to completely monopolise conventional breeding through using patents.”
He added: “But there are still huge legal loopholes as shown in the case of conventionally bred barley. Political decision makers now have to take further action.”