Patent Covering Methods of Advanced Genomic Selection from Guinea Pigs to Corn Survives Opposition in EU

February 23, 2018
Post by Cassie J. Edgar

Effectively protecting improved genetics requires a multi-pillared strategy considering the biological organisms themselves, methods of use, methods of breeding, and any regulatory data protection. The EPO recently upheld a patent (EP 2813141, granted August 5, 2015) drawn to methods of breeding using genome-wide estimated breeding values (EBVs) to identify combinations of individuals in a population which yield a probability of improving at least one phenotypic trait of interest in resulting offspring. This, according to KeyGene’s press release, was the first European patent granted in the field of genomic selection. An opposition was filed by KWS in June of 2016. After oral proceedings on February 1st in Munich, the patent was upheld. The ability to obtain and defend such IP protection in genomics is a positive result for companies investing in improving genetics and bringing innovative technologies to market across plant and animal species.

The main claim is directed a method of breeding comprising eight steps, for selecting individuals within a breeding population whose offspring have a higher combined genome-wide EBV for at least one phenotypic trait, as compared to 70% of the other combinations. Additional claims in the patent as granted are dependent from this main claim and include further limitations such as specific molecular marker techniques for calculating recombination probabilities. Other dependent claims include further detail on type and ploidy of claimed organisms, with species ranging from guinea pigs to corn. The final claim is directed to products produced by any of the method claims, “preferably wherein the product is a plant.”

KWS will have two months to appeal the decision - stay tuned for further details.

Cassie J. Edgar is Patent Attorney and Chair Regulatory & Product Development Law Practice Group at McKee, Voorhees & Sease, PLC. For additional information, please visit or contact Cassie directly via email at

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