Plant patents – exclusive rights to plant variety

With the development of society’s awareness of healthy eating based on plant-based diet and the growing importance of ecological farming, plant patents, i.e. exclusive rights to plant varieties, are becoming more and more popular. Few people realise that only inventions or trademarks can be protected by registration with the appropriate office but also plant varieties.

Plant variety protection in Poland

At the national level, plant variety protection rights are granted on the basis of the Act of 16 June 2003 on the legal protection of plant varieties. The body responsible for the registration is the Research Centre for Cultivar Testing. The protection right obtained by the breeder in this way is valid only on the territory of Poland.

Plant variety protection in the EU

At the EU level, Council Regulation (EC) 2100/94 on Community plant variety rights applies. Obtaining an exclusive right on the basis of EU regulations enables plant variety protection on the territory of all EU Member States. Registration is done by the Community Plant Variety Office (CPVO).

If a Community and a national plant variety rights are obtained at the same time, the breeder exercises Community law and cannot exercise the right granted only in Poland.

Conditions for granting protection

An exclusive right may be applied for by a breeder, i.e. a person who bred or discovered and developed a variety or is or was the employer of such a person, concluded a contract under which another party to this contract bred or discovered and developed a variety, or is the legal successor of the aforementioned people.

A given plant variety – there are no restrictions as to individual species – must meet certain conditions, i.e. be a distinct, uniform, durable and new variety. Each of these requirements has been properly defined in the law.

In addition, the breeder must choose a name for variety which, among others, cannot be identical with already existing variety names, cannot infringe the rights of third parties, including trademark protection cannot consists only of numbers or contain the word ‘variety’ or ‘hybrid variety’.

Before the exclusive right is granted, appropriate tests are carried out to determine whether the variety meets all the necessary conditions.

What is a plant variety right?

A breeder who has been granted a protection right has the exclusive right to manage the seed material of a given variety in terms of its production or propagation, preparation for propagation, offering for sale or other forms of disposal, export, import, storage.

The breeder is entitled to license fees from entities that use seed from a registered variety.

The exclusive right is valid from the date of the decision to grant it and it lasts 30 years in the case of grape, tree and potato varieties or  25 years in the case of other plant varieties.