Monsanto's European patent EP 546090 concerning the production of herbicide-tolerant plants is to be maintained in limited form. That is the decision of the Technical Board of Appeal of the European Patent Office (EPO) after a public hearing in appeal proceedings related to the patent. Apart from the proprietor, the parties to the proceedings were Syngenta, Greenpeace Deutschland and two private individuals. In 1997 they had already filed oppositions to the granting of the patent.



The patent at issue among other things describes methods for producing genetically modified plants, including crop plants such as corn, wheat, rice, soybean and flax, which are resistant to a specific herbicide.



The patent was granted by the EPO on June 19, 1996, and following opposition proceedings in April 2000 it was limited relative to the version originally granted. Appeals against the decision of the EPO Opposition Division were filed by Syngenta, Greenpeace and the patent proprietor in March 2001. While Monsanto requested that the decision be set aside, the other two parties appealed on different grounds, asserting among other things that the patent at issue concerned plant varieties, which as such are excluded from patentability.



Being the last central European instance to decide on European patent applications and patents, the rulings of the Boards of Appeal are final. If a European patent is not revoked centrally, revocation proceedings may be instituted before the national courts.



Source: European Patent Office Release