THE lawyers defending a controversial patent involving cattle genetic selection techniques say the argument behind producers’ Federal Court attempts to overturn the decision is ‘fundamentally flawed’.
The Australian Patent Office granted the patent to global meat giant Cargill and United State’s company Branhaven.
It means fees will be payable for the application of more than half the DNA-associated genetic tests used in Australia’s beef and dairy industries to the US companies,
Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA), on behalf of producer levy payers, will appeal the decision in the Federal Court of Australia.
Meanwhile, Cargill is distancing itself from the patent application, saying it will not actively defend the appeal and would continue to work closely with MLA and other stakeholders to resolve the issue.
Global law firm K and L Gates’ Sydney-based partner Bryan Belling said MLA had misconceived what it was Branhaven was attempting to patent.
“Our client is not seeking to patent cattle DNA but rather the breeding techniques which make use of the DNA,” he said.
“What they are attempting to patent is most certainly patentable.”
The granting of what is considered a very broad Australian patent covering cattle selection methods that include genomic information will add significant costs to both ongoing research in the field and industry uptake of the game-changing technology, according to producer and science leaders.
It is believed relations between Cargill and Branhaven are now strained.
Cargill’s director of corporate affairs for Australia and New Zealand, Peter McBride, said Cargill could not withdraw the patent application without the consent of Branhaven.
In a written statement, Mr McBride said: “Cargill does not have full or independent ownership of this patent application but rather owns it jointly with Branhaven, a company that acquired its interest in the patent following the bankruptcy of our previous partner Metamorphix.”
In Canberra moves are underway within the federal government to find a legislative way to overturn the patent.
Queensland Senator Barry O’Sullivan said he had held numerous meetings with senior members of the government exploring all options for not only overturning the patent but ensuring it was not able to happen again.
The response was positive, he said.