Under USPTO rules, material published before a patent application that was not brought to the attention of the patent examiner can be used to reverse a granted claim. CIAT sought a reexamination of the Enola patent. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and ETC Group (formerly RAFI, the Rural Advancement Foundation International), a Canada-based nongovernmental organization dedicated to conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, also denounced the Enola bean patent.
CIAT was able to dispute the inventors claims to a unique color by providing published evidence of 260 yellow beans among the almost 28,000 samples of Phaseolus in its crop genebank. At least six of the CIAT varieties were, to most observers, identical to the bean described in Proctors patent documents on the basis of color and genetic markers. CIAT also put forward publications to show that the claims in the patent application took credit for research already widely available in scientific literature and thus claims made regarding the breeding of the bean in his patent also failed to meet the patent offices statutory requirements for non-obviousness and novelty.
In addition, CIAT pointed out that Proctor had not obtained a permit to export the beans from Mexico and that a version of the bean variety in question had been released to the public by the Mexican government in the 1970s.
Yet Proctor actively enforced his patent. At one point, the patent-holders US$0.6-claim on every pound of yellow beans sold in the United States caused a steep decline in exports of such beans from Mexico to the USA, according to Mexican government sources.
The patent office issued a preliminary decision in 2003 rejecting all the patent claims and gave a final rejection in December 2005. Proctor filed an appeal through the USPTO, and in accordance with USPTO rul
|Contact: Ellen Wilson|
301-652-1558 ext. 5723