Patenting Beer : An analysis of plant product patents with specific focus on the impact of those patents granted for beer grain plant mutations to Carlsberg and Heineken

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Juridiska institutionen

Abstract: This thesis examines the impact upon EPO interpretation of European plant patent law of the case Carlsberg and Heineken pertaining to the granting of patents for beer grain enzyme mutations. This analysis will look at current interpretation of the patentability of plant products dependant on the classification of their production process, as well as the extent of the scope of protection granted to these plant patents. This area of law pertains to the exemption of plants from patentability within the European Patent Convention and the Biotech Directive 98/44/EC, with reference to the interpretation of this legal basis within EPO case law. Within this the definition of an ‘essentially biological process’ and the subsequent patentability of the products of these processes is crucial to evaluating why the Carlsberg and Heineken patents were granted and where there remain unanswered questions after this case as to EPO interpretation of European plant patent legislation.   From this basis, it shall be shown that the beer cases of Carlsberg and Heineken mark a turning point in the interpretation of the plant patentability exception and the scope of protection granted to these patents. Changes to legislative interpretation, the industry and economy of beer production, agriculture and the morality of food patents shall all be addressed with regard to the impact of the Carlsberg and Heineken patent decision. 

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