Patents and plant breeding - a «fatal attraction»?
Patents play a crucial role in science and research. In the field of plant breeding, they are criticised time and again. In the attached detailed Q&A document you will find answers to many questions about innovation protection in plant breeding.
Thursday, March 17, 2022
In the Q&A you will find answers to the following questions, for example:
Is it permitted to breed a variety even further if a patent exists?
Yes! The use of plants for further breeding remains permitted for breeders under Swiss law even if patents exist. However, it may only be marketed without a license if the new variety no longer contains the patent-protected material, otherwise a license must be obtained.
There is a CRISPR patent flood, is that a problem?
In the longer term, a slight increase in the number of patents can be expected, simply due to the increase in the pace of innovation. However, patents only concern novel properties and are not easy to obtain because of this claim. An increased number of patents and patent disputes on CRISPR is not a problem for breeders who do not want to use these techniques at all. They still use traditional methods and properties that are not patentable. Only those who want to use the new methods or a new feature developed biotechnologically are affected.
How can small businesses compete when more and more patents are being issued? Patents are limited to 20 years and are published publicly. The Institute of Intellectual property provides support in the search for patents. The seed industry has also initiated and co-developed new approaches such as patent search platforms and patent pools, which increase transparency and facilitate the licensing of patented properties and technologies. This benefits small businesses.
Patents protect innovation and at the same time they drive innovation. During our Swiss-Food Talk on August 15, three innovation experts discussed the importance of patents for the Swiss economy.
The European Patent Office reports more patent applications for 2022 than ever before. A particularly large number of patents were filed in the field of sustainable technologies - such as clean energy. Switzerland is still one of the most innovative countries in the world, ranking seventh in Europe. To ensure that this remains the case, policymakers must continue to advocate for research-friendly framework conditions in the future.