The Carlsberg Research Laboratory has been creating the raw materials for beer since 1895

The Carlsberg Research Laboratory has been creating the raw materials for beer since 1895

Carlsberg has defended itself against accusations of patent law abuse after securing the rights this year to three new types of barley.

No Patents on Seeds, a coalition of pressure groups including Greenpeace and Swissaid, claims the patents go against the interests of consumers and are an example of corporations trying to control the food chain. "There should be no patents on beer and barley," the group said in an open letter to Carlsberg last week. "Breeding plants and brewing beer are not inventions, but based on centuries-old tradition."

However, Carlsberg, which has a long tradition in hop and barley engineering, said the patents were not for the barley but for the technique used in their development. 

"We consider intellectual property rights a fundamental precondition for growth and innovation," Carlsberg said. "In our industry, patents can ensure continuous development of new sustainable brewing technological processes, which benefit both the consumer and the environment."

The brewer also said that the amount of barely currently grown under the patents is too small to have any influence on the EU barley market. "Rather, they allow us to remove off-flavours and use more energy-efficient brewing techniques," it said.

The letter was co-written with Heineken, which was a joint applicant for the patents alongside Carlsberg.

The Carlsberg Research Laboratory, which developed the new patents, was created in 1895 by Carlsberg founder JC Jacobson. It is based at Carlsberg's headquarters in Copenhagen.

Last week, the CEO of Carlsberg confirmed that the brewer will continue to strengthen its ties with Brooklyn Brewery in Europe, despite Kirin's purchase of a stake in the US company.