These rights provide breeders with the opportunity to recoup their investments in developing new plant varieties which have desirable qualities in terms of yields, crop quality and pest and disease resistance and to incentivise further innovation in agriculture and horticulture. To qualify for plant variety protection, a variety must meet four essential criteria: novelty, distinctiveness, uniformity, and stability.
- Novelty: the variety must not have been sold or otherwise made available to the public before a specified date (generally one year in the territory where an application is filed and four years for most plants, and six years for trees and vines anywhere worldwide). There must be commercial exploitation and mere propagation will not destroy novelty.
- Distinctiveness: the variety must possess unique characteristics that differentiate it from other known varieties and make it clearly distinguishable from other varieties of the same genus and species, and these are described as part of the application process.
- Uniformity: the variety must exhibit a consistent phenotype among its plants.
- Stability: the variety’s characteristics must remain unchanged after repeated propagation or production or after a defined cycle of propagation.
Only the breeder of the variety can protect it, although breeders’ rights can be assigned, and a breeder can generally include a private company as well as individuals. We can assist with the necessary paperwork to arrange assignment of rights before filing of a PVP application.
Plant variety protection grants the breeder exclusive rights to produce, reproduce, condition, sell, or offer for sale the propagating material of the protected variety. The rights last for a specified period, which varies depending on the variety and the country or regional jurisdiction but typically ranges from 20 to 25 years.
Breeders seeking plant variety protection must file an application with the relevant national or regional authority. The application requires detailed information about the variety, including its distinct characteristics, proposed variety denomination (name), and supporting evidence for the claimed distinctiveness, uniformity, and stability. The application is examined by the authority, which may involve field trials and other tests, including a requirement to provide plant specimens in certain territories, to assess the variety’s eligibility for protection. Certain territories will accept test results from nominated testing locations in other territories, avoiding the need for testing in multiple locations.
Plant variety protection does not grant absolute control over the use of a protected variety. There are exceptions and limitations that vary by jurisdiction, such as non-commercial use, research and experimentation, and use of protected varieties to develop new varieties.
A PVP registration entitles its owner to prevent third parties from dealing with propagating material of the protected variety without authorisation. This enables PVP rights holders to prevent propagating material being produced, reproduced, offered for sale, sold, exported or imported without their permission.
The International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) is an intergovernmental organization that provides a framework for harmonizing plant variety protection at the international level. UPOV offers different levels of protection, known as UPOV Conventions, which member countries can adopt and implement in their national laws. Some members, including the UK, take part in the UPOV PRISMA system for the filing of PVP applications through UPOV, in addition to or instead of maintaining their own registry and for some or all varieties. The European Union has its own office, the Community Plant Variety Office (CPVO).
We can assist in the application process, ensure compliance with relevant laws and regulations, manage your renewals and help navigate any challenges or disputes related to plant variety protection.