2016: UPOV Works To Improve Breeders’ Applications, Civil Society Calls For Alternative System 09/02/2016 by Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch 1 Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)The Geneva-based International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) provides intellectual property rights protection for plant breeders. In 2016, the organisation is planning to work on systems to facilitate breeders’ applications for new varieties. Meanwhile, civil society is calling for ways to protect plant varieties other than through UPOV, which they see as hindering farmers’ rights. Plant breeding This year, UPOV’s agenda includes a new working group on variety denominations, the names given to new varieties, which will start in March, according to Peter Button, UPOV’s vice secretary-general. The full calendar of UPOV events in 2016 is available here. A seminar on propagating and harvested material in the context of the UPOV Convention will be organised next October, Button told Intellectual Property Watch. “These are quite fundamental notions in relation to the implementation of the plant variety protection system,” he said. “Propagating material” is plants and parts of plants that are intended for plant cultivation or propagation. “In our ongoing work of providing explanations on these notions, it has been concluded that it would be useful to invite speakers to report on cases and provide their perspectives on the subject,” Button said. The seminar will provide an opportunity to share information on real situations in which the notions of harvested material and/or propagating material have been considered in different UPOV members, he said. “It is more an open discussion to broaden understanding on the different issues rather than trying to reach conclusions,” he explained. In terms of ongoing key issues “we are planning to improve the usability of the website for particular groups of stakeholders, by developing navigation tools for different groups, such as breeders, and farmers,” he said. Electronic Applications The other project that has been ongoing for a couple of years is on electronic application forms, he said. It would feature UPOV as a post box to help breeders to submit applications in different UPOV members and overcome some practical difficulties they might meet when preparing the applications, Button explained. The applications would still be made with the UPOV members but UPOV would provide an electronic post-box function, with different language options, to help breeders to send their information to different UPOV members and to be able to reuse the same information for different applications, he said. “This is not about developing an international filing system. It continues to be filings with UPOV members,” he said. Rather, it will help UPOV members to receive the information more efficiently but it does not affect member states’ role in the way they run their systems. Another discussion starting to take place is about an international system of cooperation, he said. UPOV members have not yet agreed to start work on exploring such a system and what it might involve. But it should be built on existing forms of cooperation between UPOV members and should not affect the role of UPOV members, according to Button. For the moment ideas are just being discussed, he said. UPOV will also continue considering possible interrelations between UPOV and the International Treaty on Plant Generic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA), which established a global system to make available genetic materials for main agricultural crops for farmers, plant breeders and scientists, and in exchange provide a system of benefit sharing. As reported in the UPOV Council meeting in 2015, the Consultative Committee agreed to invite the Secretary of the International Treaty to make a presentation to UPOV members in March 2016, on possible areas of interrelations between the International Treaty and the UPOV Convention. According to UPOV’s organigram, the Consultative Committee is charged with preparation of the sessions of the UPOV Council, the decision-making body. The Administrative and Legal Committee deals with all matters except areas covered by the Technical Committee, which itself works on common approaches to concepts such as uniformity, and stability for different plant species. Civil Society Offers Alternative to UPOV Countries regularly submit their draft laws on plant variety protection to UPOV; recently Egypt and Iran have done so. World Trade Organization members have the obligation, under the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), to protect new plant varieties, and can do so through a sui generis system, of which UPOV is an example. In October, the Association for Plant Breeding for the Benefit of Society (APBREBES), a civil society group, issued a new publication: Plant Variety Protection in Developing Countries – A Tool for Designing a Sui Generis Plant Variety Protection System: An Alternative to UPOV 91. The publication was authored by Carlos Correa, director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies on Industrial Property and Economics at the University of Buenos Aires, and special advisor on trade and intellectual property of the intergovernmental South Centre. Members of APBREBES are the Berne Declaration, the Development Fund, SEARICE, and the Third World Network. According to the APBREBES publication, “The 1991 Act of the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV 1991) offers a rigid model inappropriate for developing countries. It ignores the characteristics of the seed supply systems in those countries, where farmers produce a large part of the seeds and other propagating material, and limits farmers’ traditional practices of saving, exchanging and selling plant materials.” The publication provides “model provisions for key features that are essential to designing a sui generis plant variety protection regime and these may be adapted to national circumstances.” Image Credits: Flickr – BASF Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related Catherine Saez may be reached at email@example.com."2016: UPOV Works To Improve Breeders’ Applications, Civil Society Calls For Alternative System" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.