New licensing platform launched by leading breeders
Nov. 14, 2014 — A new business association, the International Licensing Platform (ILP), has been launched to improve the global access to and the use of plant breeding traits for vegetables.
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, 11 companies have worked together to establish the ILP 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 member companies.
(The participating companies include Agrisemen, Bayer, Bejo, Enza, Holland-Select, Limagrain Vegetable Seeds, Limgroup, Pop Vriend, Rijk Zwaan, Syngenta and Takii.)
The ILP 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 ILP will make all of their patents related to vegetable breeding traits accessible to their fellow members under the conditions of the ILP.
The ILP’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.
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