Is indoor farming patentable or not? That's the question at stake in a legal battle that has raged for several years between Certhon and PlantLab.
Last week, the Court of Appeal in The Hague confirmed the ruling, a victory for Certhon. As the Court of Appeal has declared that the company has not infringed the patent in any way, Certhon speaks of 'a victory for the entire indoor farming sector'. In the meantime, PlantLab is holding on to the patent and is awaiting the European ruling and therefore the case is not yet closed.
PlantLab has a pending objection against the rejection of its Dutch patent. The decision on this is subject to the Technical Board of Appeal's (TKB) judgment on the validity of PlantLab's European patent. In 2017, the European Patent Office (EPO) declared the patent as valid. Objections by Certhon and others against the ruling were rejected.
Both parties have responded to the recent court ruling. Certhon advocates transparency to push the sector forward. "The judgment of the Court of Appeal is a victory for the entire sector," Lotte van Rijn, General Manager at Certhon noted. "The ruling is a positive stimulus to further develop and optimize indoor farming across the board.
"At Certhon, we take our product development and clients very seriously. If we bring technology and plants together, the growing possibilities for our clients are endless. Optimal growing recipes, extreme water savings, grip on growth, ingredients and quality, combined with yield optimization by autonomous growing systems and robotization; that is where the added value of our systems in indoor farming lies."
John van der Sande, Chief Innovation Officer at Certhon noted, "On the one hand, we are extremely pleased with this ruling. However, on the other hand, it is a shame that these proceedings have cost so much extra effort and energy. Fortunately, with this ruling, we can continue with what we are good at. Namely, developing reliable technology to improve cultivation processes. We are only at the beginning of the enormous potential of indoor farming. We are ready to take the next steps, as this ruling strengthens us tremendously."
LED as a heating component
PlantLab says it is surprised that the court does not consider LED lights as a heating component that can be used to warm up leaves. This leads to the heart of the matter: The patent in question is about a closed environment growing system where the temperature of the cultivation system and substrate is controlled, for example lighting.
PlantLab, therefore, believes that its patent has a broad reach. "The minute you start to control the cultivation by influencing the temperature, the patent applies," they stated in 2017. It is unknown when the ruling of the TKB can be expected. After this ruling or other potential proceedings, Certhon can reinstate the case.
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