Cómo combatir la piratería

OTTAWA– En abril de 1999, Larry Proctor, ciudadano estadounidense y propietario de una compañía de semillas, ganó una patente en la Oficina de Patentes y Marcas de Estados Unidos (USPTO, por su sigla en inglés) para un poroto amarillo mexicano. La patente le confirió a Proctor derechos exclusivos sobre una variedad de porotos que llamó "Enola". Esa decisión es uno de los ejemplos más escandalosos de biopiratería en la historia de los sistemas de propiedad intelectual.

El poroto por el cual a Proctor se le adjudicó una patente es una variedad agrícola, originaria de México y de dominio público durante siglos. El poroto se consume en todo México y por mexicanos y norteamericanos de origen mexicano en Estados Unidos, que lo conocen bajo el nombre de Mayocoba, Canario o Peruano.

Si bien la variedad de poroto existió en colecciones de semillas a disposición del público, llevó diez años, cientos de miles de dólares, una protesta masiva por parte de agricultores y de la sociedad civil, la intervención de agencias internacionales y cinco decisiones legales consecutivas para que la USPTO finalmente anulara la patente en julio de 2009. Para ese entonces, Proctor había ejercido un monopolio total sobre la producción, distribución y comercialización del poroto durante más de la mitad de la vida útil de la patente.

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