Plant Variety Rights

What you need to know

The availability, nature and extent of intellectual property protection for plants varies widely throughout the world. In Europe, many plant-related innovations are patentable, but it is not possible to obtain patent protection for a plant variety as such or for an essentially biological process, such as a plant breeding method. Other countries adopt a range of positions, some much more favourable than others. Plant Variety Rights (also known as “Plant Breeders’ Rights”) are registered intellectual property rights that are independent of patents and trade marks, and have an important role in an integrated IP strategy for plant-related innovations.

Plant Variety Rights allow breeders to obtain IP protection for a particular plant variety and therefore offer legal protection for the investment made in breeding and developing new varieties. Any plant genera or species can be protected in this way, including agricultural, horticultural and ornamental plants. To qualify for protection, a new plant variety must be distinct from other varieties, and have uniform characteristics that are stable after repeated propagation. The requirements for a variety to be considered new vary between countries.

It is possible to apply for a single, unitary EU-wide right (the “Community Plant Variety Right”). Alternatively, national rights may be obtained in one or more countries of interest. For example, in the UK, an application can be filed at the UK Plant Variety Rights Office (PVRO).

How we can help

We can assist you in obtaining and enforcing Plant Variety Rights, and can also provide advice on the risk of infringing Plant Variety Rights owned by other parties. We are experienced in filing applications for UK and Community Plant Variety Rights, and can also help you obtain protection for plant varieties in other jurisdictions around the world.