Dutch company loses teff flour patents

copyright infringementDutch teff flour patents were revoked as a result of The Hague panel decision in a copyright infringement case brought against a Dutch bakery, Bakels, by the patent holder Ancientgrain.

In November 2018, a panel of three at The Hague reviewed a case brought by Ancientgrain against the Dutch bakery Bakels. The case involved Jans Roosjen’s company, Ancientgrain, which had received patents for mixing and ripening teff flour in 2003. Ancientgrain brought a copyright infringement case against Bakels when the company started to advertise a teff flour mix on its website in 2014. The case was finally heard last year.

The Hague panel rejected Ancientgrain’s case. The panel found that no infringement was committed by Bakels because the original patents ‘lacked inventiveness’. As a result, Ancientgrain was ordered to pay Bakels over 130,000 Euros.

Teff flour is a staple part of the Ethiopian diet, and although Ancientgrain introduced teff to the Netherlands as a crop and it may have been novel in the Netherlands at the time, its use was not novel across the world. Teff flour is common in Ethiopia where it is used to make a spongy fermented pancake that is a food staple in the country.

The final verdict was only announced last week after the appeal period expired with no appeal being lodged.

The original copyright infringement case caused outrage because it was felt the original patents should not have been granted in the first place. When the verdict was made public, the Ethiopian diplomat and current ambassador to the US, Fitsum Arega, said on Twitter: ‘This is great news. I hope we can learn from this that our national assets must be protected by Ethiopians & friends.’

Source: Patent News by Direct Validation