CaMV 35S promoter IP issues

Monsanto Company and The Rockefeller University are the owners of patents on the CaMV 35S promoter. The geographical range of their patents, according to publicly available information sources, is limited to:

  • The United States and Japan in the case of Monsanto (a patent may still be pending in Brazil), and
  • Only the United States in the case of the Rockefeller University.

If you are aware of additional or more up to date information about patent coverage, please add it to what is available to users through our comments interface.

How is promoter defined?

Before entering the discussion about claims granted, it is important to know how a promoter is defined in the patents.

Monsanto defines promoter in a functional manner. In the Monsanto patents a promoter is the region at the 5′ end of a gene that initiates transcription of the gene to produce a mRNA transcript. The 35S promoter in particular is referred to as the promoter for the full-length mRNA of the CaMV genome.

The Rockefeller University does not explicitly define the word “promoter.” Nevertheless, in the specifications of the US patents a promoter sequence is described as necessary in order to obtain “adequate expression” of a gene inserted into a plant.  So, in that sense, the concept of a promoter is also functional. With respect to the 35S promoter, the specifications disclose the use of CaMV 35S promoter as a promoter for general use.  They define the 35S promoter in terms of the sequences of its subdomains.