Ethiopia is ready to sue Dutch company Vennootschap Onder Firma (VOF) for violating the access and benefit sharing agreement reached between the country and Health Performance and Food International for teff resources according to Berhanu Adello, Director General of the EIPO.
EIPO will be filing suit in a German court because Germany was the only country who opposed the patent granted the Dutch company by the European Patent Office. If Ethiopia wins the case in Germany it would then be applicable in all European countries.
A committee made up of representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, IBC and EIPO has already appealed to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) to revoke the patent on teff said Berhanu.
It is to be remembered that HPFI was permitted access 12 varieties of teff to develop a range of products including bread, chocolates and biscuits as part of a research arrangement reached with the Larenstein University of the Netherlands, in collaboration with the Dutch Soil and Crop Company.
The agreement however specifically protected intellectual property rights being taken out on teff genetic resources or its components although it did not eliminate patents on processes related to teff said Berhanu.
The company however went on to file for property rights and the right to distribute teff and its products in Australia, US, Japan, and Latin American countries.