A key change has been implemented in Rules 27 and 28 EPC in order to exclude plants and animals “exclusively” obtained by essentially biological processes from patentability.

Under European Patent Convention plants and animals are patentable as long as they are not confined to a particular plant or animal variety. However, the new rules now exclude plants and animals which are obtained solely by essentially biological processes. The new rules entered into force on 01 July 2017, and will apply only to European patent applications filed on or after this date, as well as to European patent applications and European patents pending at that time.

The EPO stayed all proceedings before the examining and opposition divisions in respect of cases relating to plants or animals obtained by essentially biological processes on 24 November 2016 following a notification from the EC confirming that the legislator’s intention was to exclude from patentability products obtained by essentially biological processes. The stay has been released as of 01 July 2017 in view of the new rules.