amenic181 /
30 June 2017Europe

EPO amends patentability of plants and animals regulations

The European Patent Office (EPO) has amended its regulations to exclude plants and animals obtained by an essentially biological breeding process from patentability.

Yesterday, June 29, the EPO’s Administrative Council announced the decision, following a proposal from the office.

The proposal took account of European Commission notice from November last year, which discussed certain articles in the EU Directive on biotechnological inventions (98/44/EC).

“The directive excludes essentially biological processes from patentability but does not provide for a clear exclusion for plants or animals obtained from such processes,” said the office.

Jane Wainwright, partner at Potter Clarkson, said: “Irrespective of your take on the correctness of the change, it is extremely helpful for applicants and patent proprietors for this issue to have been resolved by the EPO quickly and decisively.”

Wainwright added that the change in the regulations brings the way the EPO examine cases in line with a number of EU countries which already exclude such plants and animals from patentability under national law.

The EPO also said that its proposal “almost unanimously safeguards uniformity in harmonised European patent law”.

The new provisions will come into effect on Saturday, July 1.

It was also announced that proceedings in examination and opposition cases concerning plants or animals obtained by an essentially biological process have been stayed since last November and will now gradually be resumed.

The EPO said: “It [the EPO’s proposal] contains an important precision to patenting practice at the EPO, providing more clarity and legal certainty for users of the European patent system.”\

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