"Soya" patent limited after hearing in opposition proceedings before the European Patent Office

May 8, 2003

Munich, 07 May 2003

Outcome of oral proceedings relating to Monsanto patent

Munich, 6 May 2003 - The so-called "soya" patent owned by Monsanto (EP 301 749 B1) is to be limited. The Opposition Division of the European Patent Office (EPO) came to this decision today after a public hearing in opposition proceedings. In March 1994, the EPO granted Agracetus, subsequently taken over by Monsanto, a patent for twelve of the current member states of the European Patent Organisation. In its original form, the patent describes a process for genetically engineering plants, in particular soybean plants.

The Opposition Division takes the view that the granted patent does not meet the requirement for sufficient disclosure. Under Article 83 of the European Patent Convention (EPC), the description of an invention has to be sufficiently clear and complete for it to be carried out by a person skilled in the art. In its limited form, the patent now relates only to soybean plants, not generally to any kind of plant.

The parties can contest the outcome of today's hearing in appeal proceedings before one of the EPO's Technical Boards of Appeal. The reasons for the Opposition Division's decision, setting out a full assessment of the facts and arguments, will be published at a later date.

Notes to journalists

1. The "soya" patent is European patent EP 301 749 B1. Its title is "Particle-mediated transformation of soybean plants and lines".

2. Hearings are part of the opposition procedure provided for under the EPC. The procedure enables anyone to contest European patents. Oppositions are filed against about 6% of the European patents granted each year. The opposition period ends nine months after the patent is granted. In this procedure, involving opponents and the patent proprietor, the EPO's Opposition Division decides whether the contested patent should be maintained, amended or revoked. The Opposition Division in this particular case comprised three technically qualified examiners. The decision of the Opposition Division can be contested in second-instance proceedings before one of the EPO's Technical Boards of Appeal.

3. For further information, please contact:

Rainer Osterwalder
Press Department, European Patent Office
D-80298 Munich

Telephone: +4989/2399-5012
Fax: +4989/2399-2850
Mobile: +49173/9461630

e-mail: rosterwalder@epo.org

4. Background material and press releases on this case, together with general information on the EPO, can be found on the European Patent Office home page: http://www.european-patent-office.org/

Press kit

(PDF documents)

Background information on the European Patent Office

Background information on European patents

Background information on the "soya" patent

Copyright © 1996-2003 European Patent Office . All Rights Reserved.
http://www.european-patent-office.org/ ne ws/pressrel/2003_05_06_e.htm

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