India to challenge basmati rice patent

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

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

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