Plant Variety Rights Law
Plant variety rights protect the achievements of plant breeders by registration of newly bred plant varieties in the plant variety register. It is often used for ornamental plants as well as agricultural crops, and many applications are filed by small and medium sized enterprises as well as independent plant breeders. Genetically engineered plants are not usually protected as plant varieties. A plant variety right may be applied for at the German Federal Plant Variety Office, or at the Community Plant Variety Office, which administrates the granting of community industrial property rights for plant varieties having uniform effect within the territory of the European Community.
The requirements for the grant of a plant variety right are the following:
- The plant variety must be distinct, i. e. it must be clearly distinguishable by the expression of characteristics which result from a particular genotype from any other variety whose existence is a matter of common knowledge on the date of application, for example by reference to the colour of its flowers.
- The variety must be uniform, which means that those characteristics which distinguish the plant variety are uniformly expressed in all plants.
- Moreover, the expression of the characteristics which distinguish the plant variety must be stable, i. e. they must remain unchanged after repeated propagation.
- Of course, only new plant varieties shall be protected. A variety shall be deemed to be new if variety constituents or harvested material of the variety have not been sold or otherwise distributed to others with the consent of the breeder for purposes of exploitation of the variety earlier than one year before the date of application within the territory of the EU.
- Moreover, the variety must be designated by a denomination.
A plant variety right has the effect that the production of variety constituents or harvested material of the protected variety requires the authorization of the holder. The maximum duration of protection is 25 and 30 years, depending on the kind of plant species.