The idea behind setting up the International Licensing Platform (ILP) is to give every vegetable and seed breeder access to the properties of vegetable crops. Intellectual property rights for plants are plant breeder's rights (PBR) and patents. Plant breeder's rights are allocated to the breeder of a new plant species and offer the breeder exclusive control, for a number of years, of the planting and harvested material of a new species.
An essential element of plant breeder's rights is the so-called breeder's exemption which allows protected species to be used for the development of new species. Patents are intended for inventions of a technical nature and give the patent holder the exclusive right to make, use and sell the patented technology. In order to prevent an overlap with plant breeder's rights, the classic cultivation methods have been exempted from patenting up to now. Most patent legislation does not include an exemption for seed breeders.
Recently, the highest body of the European Patent Office decreed, in the 'Broccoli' and ‘Tomato’ rulings, that patents on plants are possible after all, irrespective of how they were obtained. This would, however, seriously limit access to biological material for genetic properties and genetic diversity. The recent establishment of the International Licensing Platform (ILP) gives seed and vegetable breeders access to the crop properties.
Patent attorney Robbert-Jan de Lang describes what you, as a biotech-professional, need to know about ILP in the article entitled International Licensing platform: Fertile path for plant breeders.