The patent relates to melon plants resistant to a virus - cucurbit yellow stunting disorder virus (CYSDV) - that attacks melons, turning them yellow and reducing fruit yield. The plants are made resistant by the introduction of a gene from another melon plant by way of a conventional breeding method involving the use of a genetic marker ("marker-assisted breeding"). The gene which is responsible for the resistance was first found in a melon plant in India and catalogued in 1961. It has been publicly available since 1966.
The patent covers the modified plant, parts of the plant and its fruits and seeds, but not the breeding process for obtaining the plant.
The patent application was filed with the EPO on 21 December 2006 and the grant of the patent became effective on 4 May 2011. The patent is owned by Monsanto Invest B.V.
What is the legal basis for granting European patents?What does "opposition" mean?Why was the "melon patent" opposed, and by whom?Is it possible to grant patents on plants?And then to the most extensive section – How many patents has the EPO granted in the area of plants?
The IPKat found the last section an interesting read about the statistics of European patents in this field. Apparently,
The IPKat is musing on another aspect of the timing of the press release – just after the expiry of the opposition period. Would it have been permissible for the EPO to announce the patent just before the end of the opposition period, possibly bringing it to the attention of someone who would otherwise be unaware of its existence, and thereby prompting them to oppose it? Readers thoughts and comments are welcomed.