13 November 2014

International Licensing Platform Vegetable for Plant Breeding Innovations Launched by Leading Vegetable Companies

International Licensing Platform Vegetable for Plant Breeding Innovations Launched by Leading Vegetable Companies

There has been increasing discussion about patents on plant breeding traits over the past years, especially in Europe. Proponents of such patents claim that they foster innovation, knowledge-sharing and continued investments in research and development. Opponents argue that such patents are unnecessary because of the intellectual property protection offered by plant breeders’ rights and that patents impede the work of breeders because they can no longer gain access to biological materials, or can do so only after a delay or at a high cost.

This debate is highly relevant for breeding companies that develop new plant varieties and hence lay the foundations for the world's food supply. As the political and social debate continues, eleven companies*, which comprise both listed companies and family businesses from Switzerland, Germany, Japan, France and the Netherlands, have worked together to establish the International Licensing Platform Vegetable with an aim to provide plant breeders around the world with faster, more efficient and cost effective, guaranteed access to crucial plant breeding traits that are currently covered by patent claims by ILP Vegetable member companies.

The International Licensing Platform Vegetable provides a straightforward, easy way for vegetable breeders to license the traits they need at a fair and reasonable cost so they can bring new products to the market that meet demands from growers and consumers. The members of the International Licensing Platform Vegetable will make all of their patents related to vegetable breeding traits accessible to their fellow members under the conditions of the International Licensing Platform Vegetable.

The ILP Vegetable’s licensing system is simple and transparent. If a member wants to take a licence to use a fellow member’s patented invention, the two parties begin bilateral negotiations. If no agreement is reached within three months, the case is put to arbitration by independent experts. The innovative aspect of the system is the method of arbitration. It uses a baseball arbitration model, whereby both parties submit their licence fee proposal to the independent arbitrators, who then choose the most reasonable proposal. This forces both parties to adopt reasonable positions from the outset, because an unreasonable position will be rejected in favour of a more reasonable competing proposal. Once a license fee is set by the arbitrators, this fee is communicated to all other parties to increase transparency.

Membership is open to all interested parties, regardless of whether they own patents or not. Interested parties should contact Chris van Winden for more information on how to join the International Licensing Platform Vegetable. 

* Agrisemen, Bayer, Bejo, Enza, Holland-Select, Limagrain, Limgroup, Pop Vriend, Rijk Zwaan, Syngenta and Takii