March 20, 2009

Victory; warty vegetables belong to us!

Thanks to grass roots seedsavers, and in particular the seed savers catalogue, Sieger's Seed co. patent claim on pumpkins "with more than one wart" has been proven not unique enough to claim.

ETC Group
March 20, 2009

“Wartmongers” Thwarted as Bumpy Pumpkin Patent Goes Flat

Last month, ETC Group reported on a patent application(1) under
examination at the US Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) in which
Siegers Seed Company of Holland, Michigan, claimed invention of a
“warted pumpkin...wherein the outer shell includes at least one
wart...” On February 13, the USPTO put its 9-page verdict in the mail,
(2) rejecting all of the application's 25 claims.

“The good news is that the USPTO rejected all claims in the warty
pumpkin patent application,” says Silvia Ribeiro from ETC Group's
Mexico office. “And also that in her decision, the patent examiner
cited a catalogue from Seed Savers Exchange – a non-profit
organization that preserves and distributes heirloom seeds. Seed
catalogue entries demonstrated the pre-existence of warty pumpkins
well before Siegers Seed's so-called invention. Thousands of years
before that of course, indigenous peoples domesticated pumpkins and,
no doubt, there have been bumpy ones since then.”

“The bad news,” says ETC's Kathy Jo Wetter, “is that the USPTO's
rejection is 'non-final,' which means the applicant can make
amendments to the claims and try for a monopoly patent again.”

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