India revokes PepsiCo’s potato patent

What is the News?

The Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers Rights (PPV&FR) Authority has revoked a PVP (Plant Variety Protection) certificate granted to PepsiCo India Holding (PIH) on a potato variety (FL-2027) on multiple grounds. 

Note: ​​PPV&FR is a statutory body set up under the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act, 2001. 
Background

Pepsico had a patent for the potato plant variety FL-2027 (commercial name FC-5). For growing this variety, Pepsico had entered into a buyback agreement with farmers.

But Pepsico later filed a lawsuit against the farmers for illegally growing, producing and selling the variety without permission of Pepsico.

However, farmers have cited Section 39 of the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights (PPV&FR) Act,2001 which specifically says that a farmer is allowed to grow and sell any variety of crop or even seed as long as they don’t sell branded seed of registered varieties.

Later, Pepsico decided to withdraw lawsuits against the farmers.

What has been done now?

An application was filed by an activist at the PPV&FR Authority to revoke the Pepsico certificate on a potato variety(FL-2027).

The PPV&FR authority revoked the certificate on multiple grounds. This included the following:

  • The grant of the certificate of registration had been based on incorrect information furnished by the applicant.
  • The certificate had been granted to a person not eligible for protection.
  • The grant of the certificate of registration was not in the public interest.
What is the significance of this decision?

The PPV&FR authority revocation of Pepsico patent on grounds of being against public interest sends an important signal that farmers’ rights were not to be taken lightly by IPR-holders in India.

Source: This post is based on the following articles:

  • “India revokes PepsiCo’s potato patent” published by The Hindu on 4th December 2021.
  • “Historic win for farmer seed rights: PepsiCo’s IPR on potato variety revoked”  published by Down To Earth on 4th December 2021.
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