Patenting of Plants and Exceptions to Exclusive Rights: Lessons from European Law
Biotechnology has increased the use of patent law to protect the outcomes of plant breeding. While the TRIPS Agreement allows countries to exclude the patentability of plants and essentially biological processes to obtain them, many developing countries are granting patents on plants and plant components, such as seeds, cells, and genes. These patents can limit access to plant materials for further research and breeding and prevent farmers from saving and re-using seeds that incorporate patented materials. This study shows how European legislation has sought to strike a balance between the protection of plant-related inventions and the rights of breeders and farmers through the introduction of specific exceptions to patent rights and discusses what lessons can be drawn for developing countries.