GENET archive


4-Patents: Neem patent revoked!!! Major victory against biopiracy

----------------------------- GENET-news -----------------------------

TITLE:  Neem patent revoked!!! Major victory against biopiracy
DATE:   May 10, 2000

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Munich, May 10, 2000.  At the conclusion of a two-day Oral 
Proceeding, the Opposition Division of the European Patent Office 
(EPO) this afternoon completely revoked Patent number 436257, which 
had been granted to the United States of America and the 
multinational corporation W.R. Grace for a fungicide derived from 
seeds of the Neem tree. The Legal Opposition to the patent had been 
lodged five years ago by the Research Foundation for Science, 
Technology and Natural Resource Policy directed by the renowned 
Indian scientist Vandana Shiva, IFOAM (International Federation of 
Organic Agriculture Movements), and Magda Aelvoet, former Green 
Member of the European Parliament  and current Environment Minister 
of Belgium.  Following extensive testimony by expert witnesses, the 
panel judged that there was no inventive step involved in the claimed 
The three Opponents in the case were extremely pleased with the 
outcome, but they had felt confident all along in the merits of their 
case.  Dr. Vandana Shiva commented, "We were certain from the 
beginning that the US/Grace patent did not satisfy the basic 
requirements for a patent. How could the United States or W.R. Grace 
say they invented something which has been in public use for 

"This is a great day not only for us but for all people throughout 
the world, especially from the Third World, who have been fighting to 
take back control of their resources and knowledge systems from the 
patent regimes of the North," said IFOAM President Linda Bullard.  
"We are gratified about the decision’s recognition of the 
intellectual achievements of the South and urge the patent office to 
reject the 11 Neem patent applications which are still under 
examination.  We hope that our victory will mark a turning point in 
the struggle against biopiracy."

At midday on the first day of the hearing demonstrators gathered in 
front of the EPO building holding banners reading "No Patents for 
Theft" and carrying signs representing all the European patents which 
have been granted or are pending on the Neem.  A 2-metre tall Neem 
tree—whose scientific name means the "Free Tree"—was symbolically 
"freed" from patents for public use by a delegation of scientists and 
farmers from India and Sri Lanka.  They then presented to a 
representative of the EPO packages of signatures of 500,000 Indian 
citizens demanding that all patents on the Neem be revoked.  

For further information contact:
Vandana Shiva at +9111 685-3772 (India); 
Linda Bullard at +33 29 825-8976 (France);
Dr. Ruth Tippe, +49(0)172 896 3858 (MŁnchen)
For a Background paper on the Neem Patent Challenge, go to


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