Joy as Pelargonium patent revoked
African Centre for Biosafety media release, 26 January 2010

MUNICH, GERMANY: The Opposition Division of the European Patent Office has revoked a patent granted to Dr. Willmar Schwabe in its entirety. The patent was opposed by the African Centre for Biosafety acting on behalf of a rural community in Alice, in the Eastern Cape, in collaboration with the Berne Declaration, a Swiss NGO. The patent was in respect of a method for producing extracts of Pelargonium sidoides and Pelargonium reniforme to make Schwabe’s cough and colds syrup, Umckaloabo. Both species of pelargonium are harvested from the wild in the Eastern Cape and exported to Europe for the production of Umckaloabo. The main claim in the patent, in respect of a procedure for the production of an extract from the pelargonium using an aqueous-ethanol solvent, is a procedure used by traditional healers from the Alice community for centuries. The patent was revoked because the Opposition Division found that the patent did not satisfy the requirements of the European Patent Convention dealing with inventiveness. The Division also conducted an in-depth discussion of aspects of the biodiversity convention. Read the press release … Read an EPO press release … Visit the Pelargonium patent challenge webpage including case and background documents … Download an ACB brief “Biopiracy under Fire: The pelargonium Patent Hearing”, providing an overview of key issues for the patent hearing [pdf] …