European Patent Office Revokes Neem Patent Rights
ASHOK B SHARMA / Financial Express (India) 10mar2005
NEW DELHI, MARCH 9 — The European Patent Office (EPO) finally decided to revoke in entirety a patent right it had earlier granted on a fungicide derived from an Indian medicinal plant, neem. It said the patent application was an act of biopiracy.
EPO, in September 1994, had granted patent rights to US department of agriculture (USDA) and the multinational agribusiness corporation, WR Grace of New York vide No 436257. USDA and WR Grace had applied for patent rights in December 12, 1990 on the basis of a US priority application of December 26, 1989 covering a method for controlling fungi on plants by the aid of a hydrophobic extracted neem oil.
Subsequently with adequate evidences of traditional use of the fungicide, EPO revoked the patent in May 2000. But this victory was shortlived as the revocation was followed by an appeal. It was finally on the evening of March 8, 2005 EPO finally revoked the patent rights once and for all.
Incidentally, the revocation came on the International Women’s Day to bring cheers to three women who fought a decade-long legal battle.
Though the Indian government did not raise a voice, in June 1995, a legal opposition to the grant of this patent was filed jointly by Dr Vandana Shiva, director of Delhi-based Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology (RFSTE), Ms Magda Aelvoet of the Green Group in European Parliament and Ms Linda Bullard of International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM). These three women were assisted by their attorney, Dr Fritz Dolder of the faculty of law in the University of Basel.
Speaking from Munich, Dr Vanadana Shiva said: “What a lovely celebration for the women of India. The EPO verdict uphelds the value of traditional knowledge of millions of women not only in India, but throughout the South. ”
The former president of the Green Group in European Parliament and presently Belgian minister of state for health and environment, Ms Magda Aelvoet said: “This is the first time that a patent has been rejected on grounds of biopiracy.” The former IFOAM president, Linda said: “We are able to establish that traditional knowledge can be used as a means for establishing prior art and thus destroy the false claims of novelty and inventiveness.”
source: http://www.financialexpress.com/fe_full_story.php?content_id=84816 13mar2005
Neem tree - the living legend
The Neem is considered to be one of the most promising trees of the 21st century. It has great potential in the fields of Pest Management, Environment Protection and Medicine.
It is known to help control diseases like Malaria, Cancer and AIDS, combat desertification and deforestation, reduce excessive global temperature and even help in population control.
To generations of Indians neem was known to provide protection from disease - therefore protecting and planting Neem was not only considered a sacred duty - but it was encouraged by religious sanction.
Neem is a tropical tree with wide adaptability and is especially suited to semi-arid conditions. Currently it is grown in many Asian countries and in the tropical regions of the western hemisphere.
Neem is considered to be part of India's genetic bio-diversity.
source: http://www.neemfoundation.org 13mar2005