25 February 1998
India to challenge basmati rice patent

INDIA is planning to fight the United States decision to grant a patent to RiceTec of Texas to use the name “basmati” on its rice.

India is confident that it can prove the term refers to a typically Indian variety of rice and the USA will have to revise the patent.

M S Swaminathan, a leading Indian agricultural scientist, fears the patent could badly hit basmati rice exports from the Indian sub-continent, particularly to the European Union.

The US patent office said RiceTec got the patent for a cultivar of basmati rice because it had earlier patented strains of corn or other new mutations of grains.

The Indian Government is considering whether to ask for a review from the US patent office or to complain to the World Trade Organisation.

RiceTec believes basmati is a generic name for a type of rice, as durum is for a kind of wheat.

  • Financial Times 25/02/98 page 35