Plant and Animal Sciences Patents

According to the patent laws of several countries, one cannot obtain biotechnological patent protection for plant or animal varieties, or essentially biological processes for the production of plants or animals. However, as there has been no South African case law addressing this aspect of patent law, one has to look further afield to European and UK patent court decisions. It appears from the European Biotech Directive and the UK Patent Office practice manual that patent claims to a genetically modified plant per se (and not to a plant variety) are allowable in a biotechnological patent application.

While this difference may seem pedantic, it represents the difference between a patent application that may be considered valid and one that is invalid. The term “essentially biological processes” for plant or animal production refer generally to the process of obtaining new varieties by traditional breeding methods – plants or animals obtained in this way are not considered patentable. Should you have originated a new plant variety by conventional breeding, however, this may be protected by way of a Plant Breeders’ Rights application in South Africa, and not a patent.

The USA is the exception to this and issues so-called Plant Patents. Please let us know should you require patent assistance in this regard. Similarly, biotech patent claims to animals obtained by traditional breeding methods are not allowable at most Patent Offices, but a genetically modified animal is considered patentable in the UK, Europe and USA. There is currently no equivalent in the animal sciences field to the protection offered by Plant Breeders’ Rights.

More information regarding Patents

Patents – In simple terms, a South African patent may be granted for an invention that is: New, Inventive and Useful. If your invention meets these three requirements, generally, subject to certain exclusions detailed below…

Biotech Patents – Research and development in the life sciences is extremely costly and time-consuming. The pharmaceutical industry provides a good example of the time-scales and funding one needs in order to bring…

International Patent Protection – It is important to note that patents are territorial rights – a patent granted in South Africa can be enforced in South Africa only. However, you may, within 12 months…

Software Patents – Historically, software has been protected primarily through the provisions in the South African Copyright Act. Examples of subject matter for copyright protection of computer programs and mobile apps are…

Requirements for Patent Application – We need a full, detailed technical description of the invention in order to draft a patent specification. If you have a prototype or drawings of your invention…

Plant and Animal Sciences – According to the patent laws of several countries, one cannot obtain biotechnological patent protection for plant or animal varieties, or essentially biological processes for the production of plants or animals…

Patent Search – It is very important for applicants to do a patent search for similar inventions before applying for protection. A Patent Search will indicate whether your idea or inventions has been patented before. Although novelty can never be determined…

Patent Requirements – Although novelty can never be determined conclusively, an indication of the novelty of your invention may be found by conducting patent and literature searches. South Africa has a so-called…

Patent Costs – A novelty search is conducted prior to filing a Provisional Patent Application to identify potentially novel and/or inventive aspects of an invention in light of what already exists (i.e. the prior art)…

Patent Exclusions –  Anything which consists of a discovery; a scientific theory; a mathematical method; a literary; dramatic, musical or artistic work; or any aesthetic creation; a scheme, rule, or method for performing a mental act…