The Administrative Council of the EPO European Patent Office took a decision to amend the relevant regulations in order to additionally exclude from patentability plants and animals exclusively obtained by an essentially biological breeding process.
The current EU Directive on biotechnological inventions (98/44/EC) excludes essentially biological processes from patentability but does not provide for a clear exclusion for plants or animals obtained from such processes. In a notice of November 2016, the European Commission clarified that it was the European legislator’s intention to exclude not only processes but also products obtained by such processes.
The new EPO provisions will apply with immediate effect starting on 1 July 2017. Proceedings in examination and opposition cases concerning plants or animals obtained by an essentially biological process will now be examined according to the clarified practice.