Seed World

A New Tool for Plant Breeders


New Tool for Breeders

PINTO provides transparency to plant breeders.

A new tool is available to breeders around the world in search of patent details related to plant varieties commercially available in the European Union and European Free Trade Agreement countries.
PINTO, which takes its name from patent information and transparency online, is now live. The new database—created and implemented by the European Seed Association—was rolled out in July to promote transparency and innovation in the seed sector.
“The PINTO database is an important element in the overall implementation of ESA’s policy and position on intellectual property rights for plants and seed,” says Garlich von Essen, secretary general of ESA. “We believe it is crucial that uncertainty or lack of transparency do not discourage the use of material and potentially reduce innovation. PINTO is an additional tool to help breeders make their choices when selecting material for breeding programs to bring ever new and better varieties to the market and consumers.”

“We believe it is crucial that uncertainty or lack of transparency do not discourage the use of material and potentially reduce innovation.”
— Garlich von Essen

Under European patent law, plant varieties, as such, are excluded from patentability. However, in practice, due to the specific nature of plant-related patents, plant varieties often fall under the scope of certain patents, and the use for further breeding and development of biological material that may be covered by a patent is not exempted.
The nature of patent claims are complex, and it is not a simple matter to determine if a variety is covered by a patent, which often leads to uncertainty that discourages breeders to make use of certain varieties in their breeding programs, thus hindering innovation in plant breeding and variety development.
Now, with the click of a button, breeders can access patent information about varieties of interest, allowing them to make more informed choices when selecting varieties for breeding programs.
Varieties included in PINTO are linked to either patents already granted or to published patent applications in Europe. This information is supplied to the ESA on a voluntary basis by those developing the respective varieties.
Initially, PINTO will focus on varieties commercialized in the EU and EFTA countries. ESA’s long-term goal is to include plant varieties from other countries and continents.
Katharina Bednarz and Kari Belanger

PINTO is freely accessible to all interested partiessept13_newtool_1 at After creating a personal account, users can search the database by a number of criteria such as variety denomination, species, patent holder, patent number and keyword. Research institutes, universities, farmers, growers, or any industry stakeholders are welcome to use the database.