Over the last few decades, the number of patents on plants and plant parts has greatly increased in various parts of the world. Most research, however, has focused exclusively on developed countries—the United States and European Union states in particular—while little is known about the extent to which plants are being patented in other parts of the world. This article aims to fill this information gap by providing an overview of the status of patenting plants in the developing countries and emerging economies of the Global South. The research is based on the analysis of legal provisions, patentability guidelines, court decisions (where they exist) and a sample of patents granted in the countries selected for this study. The findings indicate that despite the flexibilities of the World Trade Organization Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Agreement regarding the nonpatentability of plants, 60% of the 126 countries in the Global South for which data were available to allow for the patenting of plants or parts thereof, and many such patents have been identified. This situation warrants further reflection and, potentially, review of existing patent laws as developing countries search for ways of responding optimally to the needs of feeding a growing population while adapting to the challenges of climate change.
- developing countries
- Global South