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Pelargonium Patent Challenge against Dr. Willmar Schwabe

Briefing Papers

On the 25th and 26th January 2010, the ACB will give evidence at a hearing at the European Patent Office (EPO) in Munich, Germany. The hearing concerns a patent challenge by the ACB on behalf of a rural community in Alice, South Africa, in collaboration with Swiss NGO the Berne Declaration.

The patent being challenged is one granted to Dr. Willmar Schwabe GmbH (‘Schwabe’) and Company by the EPO on the 26 September 2002. The patent is in respect of a method for producing extracts of pelargonium sidoides and perlagonium reniforme (‘Patent A’) to make Schwabe’s blockbuster cough and colds syrup, Umckaloabo. The main claim in the patent is in respect of a procedure (percolation and maceration) for the production of an excerpt from pelargonium with an aqueous-ethanol solvent (10-92% ethanol). This procedure is not only commonly used in the phytomedicine sector but also for eons by traditional healers from the Alice community.

The effect of the patent is to give Schwabe exclusive right in the countries that are parties to the European Patent Convention (EPC) over the next 20 years, to make, sell or import/export the active ingredients of the pelargonium roots that have been extracted by water and alcohol.


Documents pertaining to the Case
Nr Document Filed by Downloads
1 Notice of opposition EP 1 429 795 B1 ACB Download 92.30 Kb
2 Notice of Opposition by Dr Dolder obo ACB and Berne Declaration dated 10 March 2008 Dr Older Download 54.32 Kb
3 Reply filed by Dr Willmar Schwabe dated 18 December 2008 Dr Schwabe Download 188.05 Kb
4 Summons to hearing by EPO dated 22 September 2009 EPO Download 25.98 Kb
5 Preliminary opinion by Opposition Division of EPO EPO Download 64.51 Kb
6 Reply by Dr Dolder obo ACB and Berne Declaration dated 20 November 2009 Dr Dolder Download 121.06 Kb

Background documents
Nr Document Downloads
1 ACB Briefing Paper: Knowledge Not For Sale: Umckaloabo and the Pelargonium Patent Challenges Download 699.14 Kb
2 ACB's Frequently Asked Questions on the Pelargonium Patent Challenges Download 699.14 Kb

Nr Document Downloads
1 Fact Sheet on Pelargonium Patent Challenges, ACB, Berne Declaration EED, January 2010
Download 47.00 Kb
2 Biopiracy Under Fire: The pelargonium Patent Hearing Download 990.40 Kb

Media Documents
Nr Document Downloads
1 Pelargonium Hearing; Media Invitation
Download 228.44 Kb
2 Photographs
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