It's available in various official European Union languages, including Latvian, but not in English. Still, with the help of his friends, the IPKat has been able to piece together the deeper inner meaning of Advocate General Mengozzi's Opinion in Case C-428/08 Monsanto Technology LLC v Cefetra BV and others, a reference to the Court of Justice of the European Union for a preliminary ruling from the Dutch Rechtbank ‘s‑Gravenhage.
Right: Monsanto's latest genetically modified bean?
From the talented Stephanie Bodoni (Bloomberg) the IPKat learns that the Advocate General is advising the Court of Justice to rule that Monsanto, the world’s biggest seed company, can’t rely on a European patent for its Roundup Ready soybeans as it seeks to block imports of soy meal from Argentina. This is because the European patent for the trait that makes soybeans resistant to some herbicides doesn’t extend to soy meal made from the patented seeds.
Argentina, the world’s third-biggest soybean exporter after Brazil and the US, is one of the few countries where Monsanto does not hold a patent on the herbicide-resistant seeds. However, a ruling that Monsanto's European patent is enforceable would let it block those imports.
During 2005 and 2006, St. Louis-based Monsanto had loads of soy meal from Argentina impounded in Amsterdam harbour. Tests showed the products contained some of the patented seed traits and Monsanto sued the importers for infringement. A Dutch court, hearing the dispute in 2008, sought the EU tribunal’s guidance. While Monsanto argued the patented trait in the soybeans remained under its protection after the beans had been processed into soy meal, the importers argued the patent’s scope is not so wide under EU biotechnology rules.
According to the Advocate General, protection for patents that cover genetic sequences is limited to situations where the genetic information is currently performing the functions described -- but there is a limit to how far Monsanto can stretch itsprotection.
Apparently in 2008 68.5% of Argentine exports of soybeans and soy products went to the EU,
according to data compiled by the Rosario Cereals Exchange.
The AG's Opinion, in French, looks like this:
«Dans le système de la directive 98/44 ... relative à la protection juridique des inventions biotechnologiques, la protection conférée à un brevet relatif à une séquence génétique est limitée aux situations dans lesquelles l’information génétique exerce actuellement les fonctions décrites dans le brevet. Cela vaut aussi bien pour la protection de la séquence en tant que telle que pour la protection des matières dans lesquelles elle est contenue.This means, roughly:
La directive constitue, dans les domaines qu’elle traite, une réglementation exhaustive de la protection conférée sur le territoire de l’Union à une invention biotechnologique. Partant, elle s’oppose à une législation nationale qui conférerait aux inventions biotechnologiques une protection plus étendue que celle prévue dans la directive.
Le fait qu’un brevet ait été accordé avant l’entrée en vigueur de la directive n’a aucune incidence sur la réponse à donner aux précédentes questions préjudicielles.
Les dispositions de l’accord ADPIC ne sont pas contraires à la directive telle qu’elle est interprétée dans les réponses aux précédentes questions préjudicielles».
"Under Directive 98/44 ... on the legal protection of biotechnological inventions, the protection afforded to a patent on a gene sequence is limited to situations in which genetic information currently performs the functions described in the patent. This applies both for the protection of the sequence as much as for the protection of materials in which it is contained.Says the IPKat, while the AG's Opinion is non-binding, it is accepted in maybe 75% of references. Given that this Opinion will be seen by economists as pro-trade and anti-patent, it probably reflects the political will of the European Commission to free the Union from what it sees as the shackles of repressive and anticompetitive monopoly exploitation -- particularly Monsanto will be seen as a big, bustling, bullying business which has already been extremely well remunerated for its R&D. As such, Monsanto may attract little sympathy as a litigant. However, whatever the court rules will apply equally to the small, struggling bio business which lacks any clout apart from the fragile patent monopoly. Says Merpel, Advocate General Mengozzi clearly envisages broader protection for perfume trade marks than for patented inventions: is this an indication to investors as to where they can more usefully invest their money?
The Directive is, in the areas it treats, a comprehensive regulation of the protection conferred on the Union territory of a biotechnological invention. Accordingly, it precludes national legislation which would give biotechnological inventions greater protection than that provided in the Directive.
The fact that a patent has been granted before the entry into force of the Directive does not affect the response to be given to previous questions.
The provisions of the TRIPS Agreement do not conflict with the Directive as interpreted in the answers to previous questions".
Are soybeans bad for puss? Click here
Are soybeans good for pus? Click here
Cat seed here