A further opposition was filed by Nunhems / Bayer CropScience. In November 2014, Monsanto requested that the patent be revoked in its entirety and the EPO complied with this request.
The patent covered conventionally bred tomatoes with a natural resistance to a fungal disease called botrytis, which were claimed as an invention. The original tomatoes used for this patent were accessed via the international gene bank in Gatersleben, Germany, and it was already known that these plants had the desired resistance. Monsanto produced a cleverly worded patent in order to create the impression that genetic engineering had been used to produce the tomatoes and to make it look ‘inventive’.
“Revoking this patent is an important success. It was more or less based on a combination of fraud, abuse of patent law and biopiracy. The patent could have been used to monopolise important genetic resources. Now breeders, growers and consumers have a chance of benefiting from a greater diversity of tomatoes improved by further breeding”, says Christoph Then, a coordinator of No Patents on Seeds!. “The intended resistance is based on complex genetic conditions, which are not known in detail. So genetic engineering is clearly not an option in this case.”