Patent on lettuce (surface)


In March 2013, a patent was granted to Rijk Zwaan, a company based in the Netherlands. It covers lettuce which shows less discoloration of its surface after cutting and looks fresh for a longer period of time (EP1973396). In this case, a trivial method for selecting plants (cutting and then observing whether it starts to go brown) was claimed as an ‘invention’. It covers plants, progenies, parts of the plant, the seeds and the food. All relevant plant varieties are also within the scope of the patent. A similar patent was granted to the same company in 2013 covering many more plant species (EP1988764). The wording of the claims covers lettuce, endive, chicory, potato, sweet potato, celeriac, mushrooms, artichoke, eggplant, apples, bananas, avocado, peaches, pears, apricots, mangos and other plants.

Other companies filed oppositions, but they have been rejected.

Patent files on EPO website: EP1973396, EP1988764