REPONSE question écrite à la Commission d’Adam Szejnfeld (PPE) – Répercussions pour l’industrie européenne de la bière des brevets accordés par l’OEB (E-004454/2018)

Niveau juridique : Union européenne

Texte de la question :

« The brewing of beer is a tradition that dates back thousands of years, and although beer is produced in nearly every corner of the world, European countries in particular have played a major role in developing beer brewing techniques and technologies. In the EU as a whole there are around 8500 breweries, and it is estimated that there are around 2.3 million jobs connected with the beer industry. With that in mind, brewers unsurprisingly became extremely concerned when, in 2016, the European Patent Office (EPO) granted two companies exclusive, comprehensive patents covering barley seed, its use in brewing beer and the beer produced therefrom. The patents concerned are numbers EP2384110, EP2373154 and EP2575433. Under the current rules, patents may not be granted to cover plants or animals unless they have been genetically modified. Opponents of the EPO’s decision have appealed against it on the grounds that the patents in question solely concern products used in purely biological processes: no biotechnology inventions are involved. Given the controversy that has greeted the EPO’s decision, and the potential impact it may have on Europe’s beer industry and on consumers in the EU, could the Commission take a position on this issue, and furthermore state what action it intends to take to clarify the rules on the granting of patents on plants and animals? »

Réponse du 30 octobre 2018

«  On 3 November 2016, the Commission adopted a notice on the interpretation of certain articles of the Biotech Directive(1) which clarified that plants exclusively obtained by essential biological processes are not patentable subject matter. The European Patent Organisation decided to align its implementing rules notice, effective as of July 2017 (OJ EPO 2017A56).

The cases in question are subject to appeal procedures and the Commission cannot comment on pending procedures. The Commission is closely monitoring developments in this fast-evolving sector, with Member States and relevant stakeholders.

(1) COM(1026/C 411/03),  »


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