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Victory for India: Neem patent revoked
April 01, 2005 11:18 IST
The European Patent Office has upheld the revocation of a patent on the Indian 'neem' tree, dealing a killer blow to biopiracy in Europe and around the world.
The EPO originally issued the patent to the US chemicals multinational W R Grace on September 14, 1994, before withdrawing it under pressure from the Green Group led by former Belgian Health Minister Magda Alevoet, and environmental activists Vandana Shiva and International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (Germany) vice-president Linda Bullard on May 10, 2000 on grounds that W R Grace's application was a kind of biopiracy.
The dispute started more than 15 years ago on December 12, 1990 when W R Grace and the US government filed a European patent application for the 'neem' tree with the EPO.
Commenting on EPO's decision, Alevoet told Belgian daily Le Soil on Thursday: "It is a victory for traditional knowledge and practices."
"This is the first time anybody has been able to have a patent rejected on these grounds. Secondly, it is a victory for solidarity with the people of developing countries who have definitely earned the sovereign rights to their natural resources," she said.