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On January 13, 2022, Select Sires, Semex, URUS, and STgenetics, all major stakeholders in the cattle genetics industry, joined together to petition the United States Patent and Trademark Office to cancel two patents owned by ABS Global, a division of Genus plc. The challenged patents, U.S. Patent Nos. 10,975,351 and 10,982,187, purport to claim exclusive patent rights in a cow and a bull, respectively, bred by ABS, their eggs or sperm, any first-generation offspring from those two animals, and any eggs or sperm produced by those offspring. In other words, ABS’s patents not only claim that ABS invented these animals and their attributes, but they also claim as ABS’s invention all potential progeny of the original two animals.

Believing ABS’s unprecedented steps to claim patent rights in its animals is inconsistent with U.S. law and harmful to farmers, breeders, and the dairy and beef industries overall, the petitioning companies have asked the Patent Office to review and invalidate the claims of these two patents. The companies have presented several arguments as to why the Patent Office should cancel the claims, including that the patents are directed to products of nature that are not eligible for patent protection, that the patents are not sufficiently new and are obvious variations of conventional selective breeding, and that the patents fail to adequately describe and enable the claims.

“While Select Sires, Semex, URUS and STgenetics sometimes compete in the marketplace, we are united in our belief that ABS’s attempt to patent the natural products of selective breeding is bad for the public and the cattle industries and goes beyond what the U.S. patent laws allow,” said David Thorbahn, president and CEO of Select Sires, Inc. The petitioners look forward to the Patent Office taking up their challenge in the coming months.