01 Feb 2017

Bejo and Rijk Zwaan announce licensing deal on traits in vegetables

Bejo and Rijk Zwaan have signed an agreement for the exchange of non-exclusive licenses for patented traits in vegetables. This exchange will enable the two vegetable breeding companies to strengthen their innovative capacities and introduce improved varieties more quickly.

Using each other’s innovations

Under the agreement, the parties provide each other the right to use plant material that falls under the scope of several of their patents for both breeding and commercial purposes in vegetables. The agreement thus increases the possibilities for both companies to develop new and improved vegetable varieties by making use of each other’s innovations. The agreement establishes a full breeders’ exemption between the parties for such patents, as exists under the worldwide plant breeders’ right system. Both companies feel strongly that patents on traits must not limit innovation, and that this full breeders’ exemption should apply as much as possible in the relation between both companies.

International Licensing Platform

Earlier, in September 2016, Rijk Zwaan announced that it had reached an extensive cross-licensing agreement with Syngenta. Rijk Zwaan, Syngenta and Bejo are all founding members of the International Licensing Platform Vegetable (ILP). The ILP makes vegetable-related innovations widely available to breeders through an open access approach that offers members access to patents on traits under fair and reasonable conditions. The ILP currently has 13 members and is open for new seed companies and public research institutes to join.

John-Pieter Schipper, director of Bejo, said: “With this agreement in combination with the ILP, Rijk Zwaan and Bejo have restored the full breeders’ exemption between them. We strongly believe that open access to genetics will contribute to long-term preservation of biodiversity and food security. At the same time this agreement strengthens the innovative capacity of both companies, which will ultimately benefit the market.”

Ben Tax, director of Rijk Zwaan, commented: “This agreement enables us to use each other's plant varieties for breeding purposes, even in cases where the plant material falls under the scope of a patent, and then to market the newly developed varieties. This is a clear win-win deal and one that is excellent for growers and consumers. Open innovation in breeding is essential for the global food supply.”