Maucher Jenkins has a team of IP attorneys with expertise covering the full range of technological fields involved in crop protection and agrochemical research, including chemistry, biology, biochemistry, biotechnology, bioinformatics, virology, genetics and genomics and we also have expertise in related fields including medicinal, environmental and veterinary sciences.
With the world population reaching 7.4 billion in 2016 and expected to reach almost 10 billion by 2050, the agricultural industry is increasingly under pressure to produce more food for this ever growing population using an ever changing rural environment. Agricultural and environmental research has achieved great results over the last century and continues to thrive to increase yield, decreasing toxicity to humans and to the planet and to adapt to other factors, such as climate change.
As in the pharmaceutical industry, the development of new agrochemicals involves significant investment in R&D and extensive trials and assessment for regulatory approval. Intellectual property is therefore an essential requirement to ensure the evolution and growth of this industry.
Small molecule agrochemicals (including pesticides, insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, plant growth regulators) can be IP protected through patents. Typically, a so-called "master patent" can be obtained which covers the novel compound and be complemented by additional patents covering its uses, its formulations, its delivery methods, its various forms (e.g. enantiomers), its combinations with other compounds and other aspects for optimum coverage. This type of filing strategy is extremely valuable to extend the protection of a new product and our IP professionals can assist you to developing a portfolio suited to your specific needs.
The agrochemical industry has successfully been riding the biotechnology and genomic waves and it is therefore not surprising that the number of biotechnology-related patent applications filed at the European Patent Office has been increasing at twice the rate of filings across all technological fields.
Natural products, for example comprising plant oils which can be used as a green alternative to agrochemicals, can also be the subject of patents. It is also interesting to note that the UK Intellectual property Office offers a fast-track examination procedure called the Green Channel for inventions having an environmental benefit. A fast-track examination is important, as your rights cannot be enforced until a patent is granted.
Another IP right available specifically for this industry is the Plant Breeders Rights to protect new plants and seeds varieties. Trade marks, registered and unregistered design rights, utility models, trade secret, data exclusivity are also available and offer useful commercial protection.
Our firm has a dedicated Life Sciences Department with considerable experience in advising companies, universities, institutes and researchers worldwide. At Maucher Jenkins, we recognise that crop protection research is not limited to the agrochemical itself and our professionals have backgrounds covering a wide range of technological fields to provide support through the whole product development (for example inventions arising from product screening, formulation, preparation and analysis) and marketing process (including product packaging and branding). We can also provide "freedom-to-operate" searches to clear the way in advance of the launch of a new product and advise with respect to the enforcement of IP rights.
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