Monday, April 1, 2013

Novartis loses patent battle in SC over cancer drug

As per the new article report, a landmark verdict by the Supreme Court on today rejected a plea by Swiss pharma giant Novartis AG for getting its blood cancer drug Glivec patented in India, thereby paving way for the continued production of the drug’s generic version by Indian companies. The said article can be accessed here.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Govt Revokes Avesthagen’s Jamun Patent

We are very well aware about how India has successfully combated for neem and haldi patents in the U.S and Europe. But it has now woken up to the problem in its own backyard when it has to scrap a jamun patent given to an Indian firm, Avesthagen (drug maker).

Background:
The Indian Patent office had granted a patent to Avesthagen, an Indian drug maker firm, for a diabetes medicine made from the extract of jamun, lavangpatti and chundun.

Grounds of Revocation:
The government has revoked the patent using a “rarest of rare” provision in the Patents Act saying it was an “integral part” of traditional medicine. It has said that the patent was “mischievous to the state and generally prejudicial to the public” as the treatment was an “integral part” of ayurveda, unani and siddha system of medicine.

Defendant’s Stand:
Defending the patent the company argued that the extracts, which work individually in managing diabetes, had an aggressive effect when combined. In addition, it used an approach that is “innovative, novel and scientific” in developing a formulation and screened it for efficacy and safety using modern technology. It has also argued that the patent was not prejudicial to public interest as it would support Indian farmers, from whom the plants would be sourced, and provide employment to people.

Future Outcomes:
While the problem seems to have been dealt with at least for the moment, there could be more in store as the government has discovered that there are at least four or five similar instances of patents given to medicines over the last five years or so that have been “developed” using commonly used plants and fruits, ranging from amla, methi, karela and ashswangandha.

Conclusion:
The present patent controversy is proving to be a major embarrassment, given that India has for long fought for protecting traditional knowledge and genetic resources and sought to check piracy of ayurvedic and other traditional forms of medicine. What is even more curious is how the Indian Patents Office gave the protection after the government had successfully got European authorities to turn down the application two years ago. The government has put all such patents under scanner and there would be more patents revocations at offing.


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

France ratifies the 1991 Act of the UPOV Convention


The International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) was established by the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants ("UPOV Convention"). The UPOV Convention was adopted on December 2, 1961, by a Diplomatic Conference held in Paris.

The UPOV Convention came into force on August 10, 1968, having been ratified by the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Germany. The UPOV Convention has been revised on November 10, 1972, on October 23, 1978, and on March 19, 1991, in order to reflect technological developments in plant breeding and experience acquired with the application of the UPOV Convention.UPOV is an intergovernmental organization based in Geneva, Switzerland. 

The mission of UPOV is to provide and promote an effective system of plant variety protection, with the aim of encouraging the development of new varieties of plants, for the benefit of society.

The UPOV Convention provides the basis for members to encourage plant breeding by granting breeders of new plant varieties an intellectual property right: the breeder's right. 

The Government of France deposited its instrument of ratification of the 1991 Act of the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants on April 27, 2012.

France, which is already one of the seventy members of UPOV, is the fiftieth member to become bound by the 1991 Act of the UPOV Convention. The 1991 Act will enter into force for France on May 27, 2012, one month after the deposit of its instrument of ratification.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

DUS Testing under Plant Variety Protection Act of India

Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights (PPV&FR) Registry has changed it long adopted procedure for registration of plant varieties, as per the public notice issued in Plant Variety Journal of India, March 2012(here). I have already posted (here) that Authority has made its mandatory disclosure as per the RTI Act, 2005(here). In the blog post (here) it was also pointed out that some of applicants do not agree with the earlier procedure followed by the Registry, as it was not accordance with various provisions of the PPV&FR Act and Rules. In the mandatory disclosure the norms set by the Authority to discharge its functions provides that “DUS test is to be conducted after advertisement of applications in Plant Variety Journal”. The Authority has already published advertisement for thousands of plant varieties with unconfirmed DUS characteristics and on the basis of which several oppositions are pending before the Registry, leading to unnecessary litigations between seed companies.

Out of these thousands of applications published, the Authority has already registered 327 plant varieties (here) according to the earlier followed norms of publication of characteristics of plant varieties before DUS testing.

Excerpt of the said Public Notice is as under:

Henceforth, in accordance with Section 19 of PPV & FR Act, 2001; the applicants shall along with the application for registration, deposit seeds of the variety applied for registration in such quantities as specified in the DUS test guidelines of respective crop species for DUS testing. Thereafter, in accordance with Rule 29 (2) of the PPV & FR Rules, 2003, if the application is found to be in order on initial scrutiny then the applicant will be notified to deposit the DUS test fee. On payment of said fee, the DUS test will be conducted. Before acceptance of an application for registration, inquiry will be conducted under Section 20(1) of PPV & FR Act, 2001 by examining the DUS test report along with application and other documents. Thereafter, if the application is found to be in order, it will be accepted under Section 20(1) and advertised under Section 21(1) of PPV & FR Act, 2001”.

At this juncture, I feel it apposite to point out that the registration of plant varieties opened since November 2006 and about 327 plant variety registrations have been granted till date, following the unlawful procedure adopted by the Authority. It took about 6-7 years for the Authority to notice the lacunae in the procedure followed by them, despite various litigations.

The damage has already been done to the genuine parties concerned, who failed to file oppositions due to publication of unconfirmed DUS characteristics in Plant Variety Journal of India. What is the remedy to the damage done to the parties concerned is yet to be addressed by the Hon’ble PPV&FR Authority.

The Authority has to address various other issues related to plant varieties registrations, at the earliest in order to avoid unwarranted litigations caused due to present flaws in functioning of the Authority / Registry. I hope the Authority realizes various procedural flaws and addresses them as well.

Note: For further information & clarifications related to post, please send mail to: onkarsingh.9999@gmail.com

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Plant Genome Savior Community Award


India has enacted the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act in 2001 for the protection of plant varieties, the rights of farmers and plant breeders and to encourage the development of new plant varieties. Keeping in view the past, present and future contributions of the farming communities in agro-biodiversity conservation, the Act recognizes and rewards such communities. For this purpose, the Authority has recognized and rewarded large number of individual farmers and farming communities who are engaged in agriculture for generations, in conserving agro-biodiversity and their contribution in the development of improved varieties went unnoticed. This reorganization and reward made for unsung heroes who have made important contribution towards advancement of Indian agriculture.

Authority has given 'Plant Genome Savior Community Recognition' certificates to 9 farmer’s communities during the year 2007-08 and 2008-09.

In the year 2007-08 recognition certificates were given to;

(1)Rung Bhotiya Farmers' Community, Pithoragarh, Uttrakhand for low gluten wheat germplasm

(2) Sh B Pradeesh & others, Pallakad, Kerala for Kunju kunju rice land races.

(3)Panchbati Gramya Unayana Samiti, Koraput, Odisha for conservation of rice landraces and also sharing these with scientists for use in their crop improvement programme.

(4)Sh Sundaram Verma, Sikar, Rajasthan for excellent work done for conservation of traditional varieties of pearl millet, chickpea & cumin.

(5)Swathi Samudaya Beej Bank, Tumkur, Karnataka for selection and conservation of white seeded horsegram.

In 2008-09 recognition certificates were given to:

(1)Vrihi Beej Binimoy Kendra, West Bengal for conservation of 550 rice land races.

(2)Farming and Tribal Communities of Jharkhand, Ranchi for conservation of 19 rice landraces having unique resistant gene against Bacterial Leaf Blight.

(3)Sh P Narayanan Unny, Pallakad, Kerala for conservation of Navara rice landraces.

(4)Kuruchiya and Kuruma Tribal Communities, Wayanad, Kerala for very good work done for conservation of rice land races with drought tolerance and medicinal properties.

After a series of meetings with experts, the Authority in consultation with Govt. of India has now finalized the modalities and criteria for “Plant Genome Savior Community Award”. A maximum of five awards per year was constituted and only two awards were given for 2009-10. The award consists of Rs 10 lakhs in cash, a citation and a memento. The selection of awardee (s) is done by a national level committee. Brochure of the Plant Genome Savior community award can be seen (here) and details of award (here).

As decided, the awards were given to two farming communities representing small / marginal farmers and men and women of tribal / rural areas located in agro-biodiversity hotspots of the country. The awards were given to representatives of the Kapotgiri Nandiveerimath Seva foundation and Panchabati Gramya Unayana Samiti on 16th July, 2011. The award were awarded by Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmonhan singh and presented by Shri Sharad Pawar, Hon’ble Union Minister of Agriculture & Food Processing Industries, Government of India. Citations of Plant Genome Savior Community Award 2009-10 can be seen here.

Kopatgiri Nandiveerimath Seva Foundation was awarded in recognition of their contribution towards the conservation and documentation of rare and endangered medicinal plant species in Kopatgiri hills, Gadag, Karnataka. Shri M.P.Shivakumar Mahaswamigalu, Founder President, along with the members of his foundation received the award.

Panchabati Gramya Unayana Samiti was awarded for their outstanding contribution in conservation of traditional land races of rice in Koraput region of Odisha. Shri Surendra Pradhani, Secretary, along with the samiti members received the award.

Authority has invited application for Genome Savior Community Award for the year 2010-11.Detail of advertisement can be seen (here). There shall be maximum of five awards. Application should be filled in prescribed format in language either in English(here) or Hindi(here).Duly filled application should reach the Registrar (Farmer Rights), Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights, S-2, A-block, NASC Complex, DPS Marg, Opposite Todapur Village, New Delhi-110012 on or before 30th April, 2012. Application received after this date will be automatically treated for next year 2011-2012 awards.

Note: For further information & clarifications related to post, please send mail to:onkarsingh.9999@gmail.com

Friday, March 16, 2012

Popularization of New varieties: Standing Committee Decision

Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India has constituted a Standing Committee of Seed Producers under the Chairmanship of Additional Secretary (Seeds) of this Ministry. The Committee is represented by officers of the Ministry, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), national and state level Seed Corporations as well as stakeholders from the private sector.

The mandate of the Committee was to coordinate the efforts of different agencies for effective demand and supply mechanism and availability of seeds of various crops and varieties throughout the country. First and Second Meeting of this committee were held on 23.09.2011 and 28.12.2011 respectively, at New Delhi. During the aforesaid two meetings, major decisions that were arrived at are;

1. New procedure for breeder seed indent and lifting.

2. Seed Rolling Plan.

3. Popularization of new varieties.

4. Discouraging old varieties of more than l0 years by phasing out the subsidy gradually over a period of three years by reducing it to 50%, 25%, 25% in the 1st Year, 2nd Year and 3rd year respectively and completely removing it during the fourth year.

5. Procurement of seed through tender by the State Government -need for formulation of a uniform procedure.

These are major decisions affecting entire seed chain starting from Breeder Seed Indent to Certified/Quality seed production and distribution. Comments were invited to be sent to ministry up to 20.02.2012, for its adoption and implementation during 12th five year plan.

Some steps are also decided for Popularization of new varieties:

i. Department of Agriculture & Co-operation(DAC) may request the state for taking up extension work with the help of SSC, SAU’s, KVKs, State Seed Farms, and Private Seed Producers by using the funds under the schemes ATMA of GOI.

ii. Data base for performance of new varieties under minikits should be collected by respective seed supplying agencies and KVKs.

iii. Based on the performance of the variety in the demonstration, seed producers (public and private) will take up the seed production.

iv. DAC may request ICAR for suggestions for popularizing new variety/hybrid for increasing its production and phasing out old varieties in future.

The Protection of Plant Varieties & Farmers Rights Act of India is effective since 2006 with a main objective of, establishment of an effective system for protection of plant varieties, the rights of farmers and plant breeders and to encourage the development of new varieties of plant. The decision taken by agriculture ministry is to encourage development of “New varieties” of plants, and is in line with objective of Protection of Plant Varieties & Farmers Rights Act, 2001.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Awareness cum Training Programme on Plant Variety Protection, India

As per the new article here two-day national seminar on “Farmers’ Rights - Current and Emerging Trends”, was organized on 12th to 13th March 2012 by the Centre for Law and Agriculture at National University of Advanced Legal Studies (NUALS), Kochi.

The various sessions of seminar were addressed by eminent speakers like Dr. Balakrishna Pisupati, Chairman National Biodiversity Authority, Dr. R C Agrawal Registrar- General Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Authority, Dr. Suman Sahai Gene Campaign, Mr. Jacob Joseph Honorary Director Centre for Law and Agriculture, NUALS and many more.

In keynote address by Dr R C Agrawal, has urged the legal fraternity and institutions of legal learning to reach out to the farmers and build their capacity in comprehending the scope of the rights provided by legislation.

Dr.Balakrishna Pisupati while addressing session said “There is a need for more clarity on the scope of linkages between the National Biodiversity Authority, Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Authority in the realm of access and benefit sharing”. He also exhorted the legal fraternity to consider the challenges while carrying out any research which invariably applies even to farmers’ rights. He further urged the fraternity to address the critical issues and challenges faced by implementing authorities and to suggest effective solutions for the same.

It is to inform readers that both the acts i.e. the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act, 2001 and the Biological Diversity (BD) Act, 2002 have provisions for benefit sharing. There are some more provisions in both Acts and Rules thereof which are interlinked, like Section 6(3) & 6(4) of BD Act are interlinked with Rule 37 (3) of PPV&FR Rules.

It is important to appreciate the efforts of PPV&FR Authority, various academic institutions and NGO’s which are playing key role in creating awareness about PPV&FR Act and its provisions. These kinds of awareness activities will surely help to the students, academics, technical persons and ultimately our farmer community.

I take this as an opportunity to inform our readers that the Directorate of Sorghum Research is organizing a “Awareness cum Training Programme on Plant Variety Protection and DUS Testing” on 21st March 2012 at the DSR Conference Hall, Hyderabad to create awareness on Plant Variety Protection and the importance of DUS Testing under the sponsorship of the PPV&FRA, New Delhi.

The registration fee for the training is Rs.1500/-. The registration fee may be paid in cash during the registration or through DD drawn in favour of “ICAR Unit, DSR” payable at Hyderabad.

Interested persons may please send their nominations on or before 17th March 2012 to:

Dr M Elangovan, Senior Scientist

Directorate of Sorghum Research (DSR)

Rajendranagar

Hyderabad 500030, Andhra Pradesh

E-mail: elangovan@sorghum.res.in

Mobile: 09848161434