Germany: Patent opponents lose in dispute over malting barley

After one week of hearings, the European Patent Office (EPO) in Munich, Germany, has announced today a decision concerning a dispute over two of three patents jointly filed by Heineken and Carlsberg on malting barley with distinctive properties. (, 30.09.2018)

The EPO ruled now that the two breweries may keep their patent with some restrictions on certain plants. The original patent covered barley from conventional breeding, that is to say plants bred without genetic engineering, and its use by the breweries. Now the patent is limited to those plants that have a certain mutation. This genetic predisposition was considered an invention.

The alliance "No patents on seeds!" argues that there should be no patents on such plants at all, as this would increase the market power of big corporations like Heineken and Carlsberg. The alliance will therefore appeal EPO’s decision from Monday, spokesman Christoph Then announced.

There is a third disputed barley patent where barley breeds of the first two restricted patents are crossed. The so bred barley is supposed to have two distinct and desired properties that ultimately make the brewing process cheaper. A hearing date for the appeals against this further patent has not yet been scheduled.

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