Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Plant Breeders' Rights

Author User Bluermoose
Source Wikipedia
Creative Commons Licence

Jane Lambert

As the world comes to terms with a changing climate and a rapidly increasing population the development of new drought, disease and pest resistant and higher yielding crops is vital.  The development of a new plant variety requires considerable investment which is protected in the UK by the Plant Varieties Act 1997. This Act establishes intellectual property rights known as "plant breeders' rights" that may subsist in varieties of plant genera and species. Holders of those rights are entitled
"to prevent anyone doing any of the following acts as respects the propagating material of the protected variety without his authority, namely—
(a) production or reproduction (multiplication),
(b) conditioning for the purpose of propagation,
(c) offering for sale,
(d) selling or other marketing,
(e) exporting,
(f) importing,
(g) stocking for any of the purposes mentioned in paragraphs (a) to (f) above, and
(h) any other act prescribed for the purposes of this provision."
Anyone who does any of those acts in relation to a protected variety without the holder's licence may be sued in the Patents Court or Intellectual Property Enterprise Court for an injunction, damages or other relief.

The body responsible for granting those rights is the Plant Variety Rights Office which is located in Cambridge:
Plant Variety Rights Office
Animal and Plant Health Agency
Shaftesbury Road
Tel: +44 (0) 208 026 5993
Fax: +44 (0) 208 415 2504
In order to qualify for such rights a variety must be:
  • distinct (that is to say it must have different characteristics to other plants of the same species);
  • uniform (all plants of the variety must share the same characteristics); and
  • stable (it must remain unchanged after ‘repeated propagation’, whether from seeds, cuttings, bulbs or other plant parts).
If those rights are granted they subsist for 30 years from the date of grant in the case of potatoes, trees and vines or 25 years in the case of anything else.

New plant varieties may also be protected throughout the EU by Community plant variety rights which are granted by the Community Plant Variety Office under the Council Regulation (EC) 2100/94 of 27 July 1994 on Community plant variety rights (OJ  L 227 , 01/09/1994 P.1-30) but national plant breeders' rights may not be enjoyed concurrently with Community plant variety rights,

Both the United Kingdom and the European Union are party to the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants which facilitates reciprocal protection of new plant varieties. The Convention established the UPOV (International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants) which implements the Convention.

Because the Cambridge Centre for Crop Science, the National Institute for Agricultural Botany (NIAB), the Plant Variety Rights Office and one of the world's leading research universities in agronomy and agriculture are located in Cambridge these important but little studied intellectual property rights are of particular importance to this region. More basic information is provided in Get plant breeders’ rights to your new variety on the British government website. Somewhat more detailed information is set out in the Plant Breeders' Rights Handbook. Anyone wishing to learn more about plant breeders rights should call me on 020 7404 5252 during office hours or send me a message through my contact form.

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