Patent on beer


The big breweries Carlsberg and Heineken jointly filed applications for patents on barley used for the production of beer and other beverages. The patents, EP2384110 and EP2373154, were granted by the European Patent Office (EPO) in 2016. They cover barley plants derived from conventional breeding, their usage in brewing as well as the beer brewed thereof. The patents in question are based on random mutations in the genome of the barley. Kernels were brought into contact with chemicals and in reaction showed an increase in their genetic variability. Thereafter, specific mutations, already known to be useful, were selected by standard procedures. The kernels are supposedly more suitable for brewing beer that, it is hoped, will keep its fresh taste over longer period of time. Furthermore, the EPO granted a third patent (EP2575433) that covers a combination of the characteristics of the barley plants achieved by further crossings. Each of the three patents covers the plants, the harvest, the process for brewing, malt and wort and all drinks produced by this method.

Therefore, in 2017, NO PATENTS ON SEEDS!, together with around 40 other organizations, filed oppositions against these patents.

Hearings 2 and 8 October 2018

On October 2nd and 8th, 2018, starting at 9 a.m., these oppositions have been heard in public hearings at the European Patent Office (EPO, Bob van Benthem-Platz 1, Munich). 

Press release (2 October): Scope of patent on beer reduced after opposition

Press release (8 October): Who invented beer and barley

Event 2 October 2018

Flags have been distributed to the visitors of the Oktoberfest on October 2, starting at 11 am at Hackerbrücke in Munich.

Photos of the event on 2 October 2018 at Hackerbrücke / Munich: high resolution and low resolution (c) Falk Heller / argum

Event 8 October 2018

In parallel to the hearing, we will distribute flags and flyers in front of the EPO (Bob van Benthem-Platz 1, Munich) starting at 8 am. You are welcome to join. 

Here you can find photos of the event on 8 October 2018 in front of the EPO in Munich. (c) Thomas Einberger, argum

See also under Activities

Media coverage:

18 October 2018, Ingeniøren, Carlsberg og Heineken får indskrænket patenter på muteret byg

5 October 2018, IPPro Patents, EPO reduces scope of ‘unlawful’ beer patent following hearing

4 October 2018, The Times, Breweries in a ferment over barley patent

Reports in German can be found on the German version of this site.

Past events

March 2017: Press release Call to stop patents on beer

2017: Letters to the ministries

June 2017: Photos of handing over the opposition to EPO

Patent files on the EPO website:

EP2384110 Barley with reduced lipoxygenase activity and beverage prepared therefrom

EP2373154 Barley and malt-derived beverages with low dimethyl sulfide level

EP2575433 Energy saving brewing method


title photo: (c) Johannes Hloch