The Plumpy’nut patent: well protected but now also widely available in the developing world

This has been sitting on my desk for a while.  One of the reasons I waited before blogging it was I wanted to see what others in the online community were going to make of the news. 

Many of you will remember the saga of the Plumpy’nut patent.  The web was literally buzzing during 2010 with news about the Plumpy’nut patent.  The high profile articles included the Andrew Rice article in the New York Times, and Jeffrey Sachs in the Huffington Post.  For previous CAS-IP posts on the subject visit:

So the update is this;  in October Nutriset announced that a “Patent Usage Agreement” is now available online for the Plumpy’nut patent.  What does this mean?  Well, providing some basic requirements are met, anyone can download a Patent User Agreement to produce and distribute the product.

 “It allows a company or an organization to manufacture, market and distribute products covered by Nutriset/IRD patents. Eligible entities wishing to do so, can subscribe simply and quickly, in just a few clicks online, a Patents Usage Agreement”

I downloaded a copy of the agreement which can be viewed here.

The requirements for eligibility are pretty basic.  You need to be a legal entity based in one of the developing countries where the patent has been filed (of course where there is no patent filed no licence is required anyway).  There is no compulsory fee to be paid, although IRD do “invite” a 1% of sales turnover be contributed towards research work.

What has the online community said about this announcement?   Not a lot from the searches I did, and from my RSS feeds….  Which is a shame as it certainly seems that Nutriset are trying to honor their commitment to make this product accessible and available – and there was a lot of negative media attention earlier in the year to the contrary. 

From the CAS-IP perspective it’s an interesting turn in the story.  In my first post on this topic I wrote:

“…the argument that underpins this, and many other similar stories [is that] IP relating to a product with a humanitarian nature should somehow be “handled differently””

 And indeed the “Online Patent User Agreement” is handling things differently.  I will be sure to blog any updates on this.

4 responses to “The Plumpy’nut patent: well protected but now also widely available in the developing world

  1. Great development! I thought though that the patent was also filed in the U.S. and not only in developing countries thus requiring any American company to apply for a licence before being able to produce and market the product in Africa, is this not correct?

  2. Yes, it is also filed in developed countries, but from the text available this on-line patent is only for developing country organisations. The press release info says: “Nutriset and IRD have deliberately chosen to favour the developing countries. Facilitating access to patent licences via the Internet is part of this strategy”
    With regards to the scenario you pose of an American company wishing to market or produce in an African country – it appears that company would have to be in business with a local organisation, with a minority share.
    “production and business site, headquarters and main shareholders (51% of the capital share) [must] be based in one of the countries entering the scope of application of the Patent Licence Agreement.”

  3. I live in Ghana, and I am interested in producing this plumpy nut product. Do they give you access to their propritary formula when you sign this license agreement?

  4. Dear Dan,

    We thank you so much for your email and your interest about Nutriset and its initiatives.

    As you may know, Nutriset and the IRD (the French public Institute of Research for Development), in line with their mandates, have chosen to use their industrial co-properties (patents) as a tool to aid development of developing countries.

    Indeed, since October 2010, Nutriset and the IRD offer to eligible companies or organizations to subscribe a Nutriset/IRD Patents Usage Agreement by simplified access in just few clicks online. This Agreement allows a company or organization to develop, manufacture, commercialize and distribute products, covered by Nutriset/IRD patents, in Developing Countries, with its own trademarks/distinguishing features and quality system.

    Should you want to have more information about this online Usage Agreement, you can refer to:

    Do not hesitate to get back to us, if you require any further information about that.

    Nutriset team.

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