(Rewrite, with corrections and clarifications)
Ethiopia’s long running dispute over who owns the patent for products made from teff seems to have moved a step closer on the right path. Teff is the ancient grain from which Ethiopia’s staple food, injera, is made.
A Dutch company called Ancient Grain had claimed and held the patent to produces made from teff flour. The court at Hague invalidated the patent stating that the patent holder made no innovation on the flour and so cannot hold a patent right over it.
Fitsum Arega, Ethiopian ambassador to the US, who is also a former director of the Ethiopian Investment Commission said in a tweet, “This is great news. I hope we can learn from this that our national assets must be protected by Ethiopians and friends of Ethiopia," He also remarked that “we should defend” teff’s patent.
The embassy of the Netherlands in Addis Ababa confirmed the news. After waiting for the appeal time to run out, the embassy announced, “As no appeal was made, the verdict is now final: the claim to processing teff by patent holder is null and void in the Netherlands.”
The patent for teff now remains open, and is not held by any person or company. This will be an assignment for Ethiopia to pursue. Earning a patent right for teff will make it easy for Ethiopia to supply the product legally to the European market, an opportunity that'll motivate farmers to produce more and thereby help the country earn due recognition.
Teff, dubbed “the magical grain” for being glutton free and having several health benefits, is widely considered part of Ethiopia’s cultural heritage. Its flour, which can be white or several shades of brown, is used to make injera, Ethiopia’s staple food.
Sources: All Africa, Ethio Explorer, Fitsum Arega's Official Twitter Page, Tadias Magazine