The IPKat spotted a rather strange notice on the EPO's website this morning, titled "Im Blickpunkt: Patent auf Schweinezucht" (rough translation: in focus: patent for pig selection). The notice, which is only available in German (even though the language of proceedings of the patent to which it relates is English), relates to EP1651777 granted to Newsham Choice Genetics, formerly known as Monsanto Choice Genetics.
"I just read your post concerning “Kein Patent auf Schwein?” and I cannot provide any information concerning the demonstration planned specifically by KPaL but I found some info regarding today’s demonstrations on the German news website tagesschau.de at http://www.tagesschau.de/
inland/schweinepatent106.html. In particular the interview link “Greenpeace Patent-Experte Christoph Then zum Patentstreit” at http://www.tagesschau.de/ multimedia/video/video480590. htmlmight help to shed some more light in this matter. Unfortunately, the interview is in German but I translated its essence, which highlights the concerns of Greenpeace as a pressure group.
Interview Christoph Then (Greenpeace) tagesschau 17:00, 15.04.2009
“Then: The issue concerning the patent is that nobody can with certainty predict the scope of the patent. The pigs concerned in the patent are not distinguishable between pigs already held on farms and used for breeding. Thus, this is an issue concerning all pig farmers as the patent, theoretically and at some stage, might extend to their pigs as they are not distinguishable from patented pigs.
News reporter : There appears to be some discrepancy as a spokesman of the EPO said that the patent only concerns the test to identify the gene and farmers would only need to pay fees if they used the test.
Then : Yes, the patent falls into 2 parts, the selection of the pigs on the one hand and on the other the selection, breeding and production of the pigs. As patent law provides for the basic principle that if there is a patented method for the production so will be the direct product…We are of the opinion that such patents contradict patent law...”
As far as your statement and question “What puzzles the IPKat is why the EPO is even paying further attention to this (quite clearly spectacularly ill-informed) pressure group.” is concerned I believe that attention is being paid not only because of KPaL but because there are German politicians belonging to the agricultural and ministry of the environment who strongly oppose and voice their concerns concerning the patentability of animals, plants and seeds as evidenced in the recent GM corn ban in Germany (http://www.dw-world.de/dw/
article/0,,4179022,00.html? maca=en-tagesschau_englisch- 335-rdf-mp)."
Julian further adds the following:
"Following the controversy concerning the recently discussed “patent for pig selection” the issue has caught further political momentum. Unfortunately, the information is only available on tagesschau.de at http://www.tagesschau.de/
inland/gentechnik102.html. It appears that the German Federal Minister of Agriculture Ilse Aigner, who already announced the GM corn ban, is in talks with German Federal Minister of Justice, Brigitte Zypries, to discuss a prohibition of livestock breeding patents in Germany. According to Aigner “it would be unacceptable that a company patents genetically modified genes of an animal, eventually demanding patent fees from breeders, whose animals appear with this gene…[adding further]…I regard that present European legislation concerning patent law is in need of rectification” (tagesschau, 18.04.2009, 11:14am).
Why this topic is so widely politicised in Germany?
The article “Ich habe nichts gegen gruene Gentechnik”, which translates as “I am not against green genetic engineering” by Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ.net) at http://www.faz.net/s/
Rub594835B672714A1DB1A121534F0 10EE1/Doc~ E2E172490B21D4065A0B82A067E105 840~ATpl~Ecommon~Scontent.html(in German only) on 18 April 18, 2009 published a poll conducted by Emnid, a market research institution, which suggest that 3 of 4 Germans welcomed the recent GM corn ban and indicates the public perception towards genetic engineering.
This makes me wonder but could the political motivation stem from the forthcoming European election as well as the German general election later on this year."