b'tious. This innovation life cycle safeguarding the probability and availability of these innovations can only be secured by ensuring effective intellectual property protection, which requires both effective plant breeders rights (PBR) and patent rights. In the past decades, many technical tools have been developed in the field of plant breeding which increased the potential to over-come the ever emerging environmental and societal challenges. Whereas PBR remains the most suitable, effective and balanced way of protection for plant varieties as such, some plant related inventions require another type of intellectual property protec-tion. Patents are an important tool to protect such intentions. The seed industry therefore continues to advocate for an effective and balanced patent system and is working on mecha-nisms that allow for a balanced coexistence of patents and plant breeders rights. Such important mechanisms include: Creating and further enhancing transparency regarding commercially released varieties that are covered by the scope of patents. This is already effectively addressed through the PINTO (Patent INformation and Transparency On-line) database set up by Euroseeds in 2013, which is continuously updated and used by many in the seed industry and beyond. Introduction of a limited breeders exemption across the European Union. This exemption is already included in the patent law of several European countries and in the UnifiedSzonja CsrgPatent Court Agreement yet to enter into effect. A limited breed-ers exemption allows for the use of biological material falling under patent protection for breeding of new varieties, but it does not allow for the commercialization of any newly developed vari-ety that would still fall within the scope of the relevant patent. This allows background germplasm to be used for further prod-uct development. It is expected and hoped that consistency and harmonization of legal frameworks regarding a limited breeders exemption will happen at national level. This would ideally take place once the Unitary Patent System has entered into full force and effect, however this is currently delayed and uncertain.Ensuring that only high-quality patents are granted by clarifying and refining the patentability criteria (novelty, inven-tive step, sufficiency of disclosure, clarity), including the EPO patent examination guidelines for plant material (i.e. by secur-ing the requirement of a reproducible technical step). This has been implemented through regular, fruitful exchanges with the staff of the European Patent Office. Further on, the cooperation that has been in place since a number of years now between the EPO and the Community Plant Variety Office (CPVO) has greatly contributed to the continuous improvement that can be observed with regard to examination of plant-related inventions at the EPO. Dominic Muyldermans Licensing on FRAND (Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory) terms. Within the seed sector licensing onopinion of the Enlarged Board brings the legal and political FRAND terms is encouraged. This can be further facilitateddiscussions to a close and together with the abovementioned by collective licensing arrangements, such industry licensinginitiatives contributing to an effective framework further legal platforms. One example if such an initiative is the Internationalcertainty can be secured. These initiatives should therefore be Licensing Platform Vegetables. further developed by and within the European seed industry The seed industry is of the view that a stable, predictable,since their value in supporting an innovative environment in balanced and effective framework of IP protection for all plantEurope and safeguarding a balanced IP system is crucial.related innovations, including PBR and patents, is needed that ensures legal clarity, thereby providing an incentive for invest- Editors Note: Szonja Csrgis Director IP & Legal Affairs ments in R&D and the creation of shared value for technologyat Euroseeds and Dominic Muyldermans is Senior Legal developers, breeders, farmers and society as a whole. The recentConsultant IGO Affairs at CropLife International.1: This means in practice that all the patent applications that have been filed before the date of entry into force of Rule 28(2) (being July 1, 2017) will be examined and decided upon pursuant to the legal framework applicable before Rule 28(2) was enacted. This is supposed to ensure the legal certainty and legitimate expectations of patent applicants.EUROPEAN-SEED.COMIEUROPEAN SEED I 35'