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THE NOVARTIS CASE

EP 0448511 B1 - Anti-pathogenically effective compositions


EP 0448511 B1

Title: Anti-pathogenically effective compositions comprising lytic peptides and hydrolytic enzymes

Proprietor: Syngenta (Novartis/Ciba Geigy)

Status: patent granted through decission by Enlarged Board of Appel (Case G1/98)

Claims: Anti-pathogenically effective compositions, methods of controlling the growth of pathogens, transgenic plants.


The fundamental decission by the EPO Enlarged Board of Appeal to allow patents on genetically engineered (ge) plants.

The original patent application by Ciba-Geigy in 1991 was rejected by the EPO, the case was subsequently handed up to the EPO's highest chamber.

Finally, in 2000 the EPO's Enlarged Board of Appeal announced a far reaching, fundamental ruling: the board decided on the patent application made by Ciba Geigy  (later on Novartis, now Syngenta) that genetically engineered plants and animals can in principle be patented (Case G1/98). Since then even patents including plant and animal varieties can be granted nearly without restrictions.

Previously, the EPO had stopped granting such patents in 1995 following an opposition by Greenpeace, since the wording of the European patent law explicitly prohibits patents on plant varieties and animal species (Art. 53b, EPC).

However, based on this new ruling the EPO has since rejected all relevant oppositions, and by 2007 hundreds of patents on genetically engineered (GE) plants have been granted; such as Monsanto's herbicide resistant soy (EP 546090 B2 ).

The prohibition of patents on plant and animal varieties since then is more or less ineffective.

Thus the Enlarged Board of Appeal, which is the highest legal court in the European patent system, but not totally independent from the EPO, clearly submitted itself to the interests of international corporations.