New plant varieties may be registered and protected as a form of intellectual property known as Plant Breeder’s Rights (PBR).
In order to be registered, the variety must be new – not sold without the breeder’s consent in a certain time period – or recently exploited.
It is important to ensure any discussion and negotiations of new plant varieties are covered by a confidentiality agreement, and that the sale of any new variety – even with consent – be limited to one year in Australia prior to applying for a PBR.
A PBR registration applies for 20 years for most varieties, and 25 years for vines and trees. Exclusive rights granted with the PBR extend to the production, reproduction, conditioning, sale, importation and stocking of the plant material.
A PBR protects plant cultivar variety names and synonyms, whereas a patent protection may also be desirable for protecting new plant varieties and components (such as genes), reproductive material and products and plant material used in industrial processes.
Application process for PBR registration
The application process for a PBR is a two-step process involving a growing trial that is overseen by a qualified person. The plant variety is covered by provisional protection for 12 months during the application process.
To be granted a PBR:
- The variety must be distinct,
- Uniform in either visual or measured characteristics, and
- Stable in reproduction if propagated from seed.
Commercialisation and licencing of PBR encourages innovation. The PBR Act even allows for further breeding of registered PBR varieties in order to promote the public interest and breeders’ innovation. Private and experimental use is therefore not limited by a PBR.
You should also consider the banner or brand under which your plant variety is sold, as this should be protected by a trade mark.
Contact our IP team for further information on PBR both in Australia and overseas.