European Seed Association ESA launches a new patent database on July 1st; but already as of today, a link to a preliminary site with regular updates is accessible from the ESA website. The database is a new tool to facilitate information of breeders on the patent status of plant material: the association is setting up a new database that shall provide an overview on the patent status of commercially available plant varieties.
In its position on IP protection for plant-related inventions ESA identified the need for more transparency regarding the patent status of plant varieties and committed itself to increase such transparency.Despite the fact that there are already a number of publicly available databases in relation to patents, information providing the link between individual varieties and individual patents currently is not available anywhere. But when starting a breeding program, it is of critical importance to breeders to know whether the biological material they intend to use may fall under the scope of an already granted patent or even a patent application. Where such information is lacking, breeders may be discouraged to make use of important genetic resources which, in the end, may even slow down innovation in breeding. ESA’s database project is meant to fill this information gap and thus allow breeders to make a more informed choice.