Plant Breeders’ Rights

Plant Breeders’ Rights or Plant Variety Protections are the basis for intellectual property protection for new plant varieties. These rights are governed both nationally and internationally based on the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants, which is an agreement between 75 member nations. The conventions outline what is considered a new plant variety, and which rights are given to the breeders.

There are four main qualities that qualify a new plant variety for protection:

  1. Novelty- The variety must not have been commercialized for a specific amount of time previous to the application. 
  2. Distinctness- The variety must have have at least one distinct trait that differentiates it from other varieties.
  3. Uniformity- There must not be too much variation between plants within a variety.
  4. Stability- The variety’s relevant traits must remain stable from generation to generation.
 Once granted Plant Breeders’ Rights give exclusive rights to the propagation materials of the new variety for a number of years, with a few exceptions:
  • The variety may be used by other breeders to develop new varieties.
  • The variety may be freely used for experimental purposes.
  • The variety may be freely used for private and noncommercial purposes.
  • Lastly in some cases the variety may be propagated in the form of farm saved seeds within reason.
Who can be considered a breeder? The definition of a breeder is not exclusive to individuals, but can also be a company or research institute for example.