Plant Variety Rights
Grants of Plant Variety Rights (PVR) are available for any plant variety with the exceptions of algae and bacteria. Currently, New Zealand has a noteworthy plant breeding industry. New Zealand growers and breeders take the lion’s share of some of the plant variety registered crops that include kiwifruit, clover and apples. There is a potential for New Zealand to generate significant income not only from the sale of produce but also from obtaining and licensing new varieties from other countries.
In application ‘variety’ means a cultivated plant variety, and encompasses any clone, hybrid, stock or line of plant. Within this context, the PVR scheme promotes investment into plant breeding through allocating and providing for commercial rights, for example, an exclusive right may be granted for the commercial production of vegetative propagated fruit, ornamental and vegetable varieties. In addition, the scheme also provides access to varieties bred offshore. Consequently, an increased number and range of varieties are accessible to New Zealand farmers, gardeners and horticulture producers.
Plant variety rights may be granted where the variety is new, distinct, homogenous and stable. A plant variety is considered new if it has not been sold in New Zealand within certain time frames (that vary depending on the plant in question).
To deal with the three components of a successful application for a PVR, a variety will be considered:
- Distinct if it can be distinguished by one or more characteristics from other known varieties;
- Homogenous if it relates to the particular features of the varieties, sexual reproduction or vegetative propagation; and
- Stable if it is established in its essential characteristics that it remains true to its description in repeated propagation or reproduction.
In most instances, a successful application will see a plant variety right granted for a term of twenty to twenty three years (depending on the type of plant). The term comes into force from the date of grant. Thereafter, a grantee shall have the exclusive right to produce, sell, reproduce, and propagate for commercial production and to authorise any other person to carry out these steps on the behalf of grantees. The PVR is capable of being assigned, licensed (as with any intellectual property right), mortgaged or otherwise disposed of.
To assert and/or enforce rights acquired as a grantee, reasonable steps by means of suitable labelling or other identification must be affixed to the plant variety to inform, or to give notice to the purchaser concerned of those rights.
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