What are Plant Variety Rights?

The system of Plant Variety Rights (PVR), or called Plant Breeders' Rights, is a form of intellectual property rights, which contributes to bringing a return on investment to the breeder of a new plant variety, while, at the same time, making the protected varieties available for breeding purposes.

What are the criteria to obtain PVR ?
In order to qualify for plant variety rights, a variety must be new, distinct, uniform and stable. A variety is new if it has not been commercialized for more than one year before the application date in the country of protection. A variety is distinct if it differs from all other known varieties by one or more botanical characteristics, such as height, maturity, color, etc. A variety is uniform if the plant characteristics are consistent from plant to plant within the variety. A variety is stable if the plant characteristics are genetically fixed and therefore remain the same from generation to generation, or after a cycle of reproduction in the case of hybrid varieties. The breeder must also give the variety an acceptable "denomination," which becomes its generic name and must be used by anyone who markets the variety.

Access for breeders
To ensure that germplasm sources remain accessible to the entire community of breeders, the UPOV (International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants) system of plant variety protection includes the so-called “breeders exemption”, which makes the protected varieties available for breeding. This ensure access to all breeding materials in the form of modern varieties to achieve the greatest progress. The “breeders exemption” is an essential aspect of an effective system of plant variety protection system which has the aim of encouraging the development of new varieties of plants, for the benefit of society.

The rights of the Rights Holder
The holder of a PVR obtains the right to control the propagation and marketing of the protected variety. Under a PVR any (re)production and selling of seeds/plants of protected varieties is illegal without the prior explicit authorisation of the rights holder. The breeder may subsequently authorise other agents to propagate and market seed or vegetative propagating material of the variety under the terms of a license. The holder of the 'Right' may charge a fee or royalty for the granting of such a license.

World agriculture and food supply have benefited greatly through vast increases in crop productivity. Plant breeding requires a substantial investment of financial resources. Without the potential revenue stream of royalties, there would be no incentive for commercial breeding and the development of new and improved varieties. The royalty payable to the Right holder may be included in the purchase price of the seed or propagating material.

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