UPOV This Week Focused On International Cooperation System; Benin Curiously Ratifies Twice 05/04/2017 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 International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) governing body is meeting this week, along with its technical, and consultative committees. On the agenda is a potential international system of cooperation, disputed by civil society. Separately, Benin, a least-developed country, appears to be in the process of ratifying the UPOV convention, raising questions since a regional organisation of which Benin is part already joined UPOV in 2014. The International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) sessions are taking place from 3-7 April. The agenda [pdf] for the week shows that the UPOV technical committee is meeting from 3-5 April, the UPOV Council is meeting on 6 April, a working group on variety denominations meets on 7 April, and a meeting on the development of a prototype electronic form is organised to take place on 7 April. The Consultative Committee, which is a closed meeting, is taking place on 6 April, before the meeting of the Council. 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. The documents of the thirty-fourth Extraordinary Session of the Council include two explanatory notes: a revision of explanatory notes on essentially derived varieties [pdf] under the 1991 Act of the UPOV Convention, and explanatory notes on propagating material [pdf] under the UPOV Convention. According to UPOV Vice-Secretary Peter Button, the Council is expected to adopt those documents. The explanatory notes are essentially explanations of articles of the UPOV Convention pertaining to those subjects. The Technical Committee documents include topics such as UPOV information databases, molecular techniques, cooperation in examination, and statistical methods for visually observed characteristics. Also on the agenda this week is a working group on variety denominations, and a meeting on the development of a prototype electronic form. The Consultative Committee is closed but the last report [pdf] of the October 2016 session indicates that this week, the committee should be considering a suggestion to organise a single set of sessions of UPOV bodies, from 2018. UPOV currently holds two sessions per year. The technical committee is expected to provide views on this suggestion this week, according to Button. International System of Cooperation On 5 April, a working group on a possible International System of Cooperation (ISC) was expected to meet. The working group terms of reference were agreed upon by the Consultative Committee last October, and the working group met for its first meeting in October. This week’s meeting document contains possible issues relevant for the needs of the plant variety protection of the UPOV members, identified during the first meeting of the working group in October. The issues are clustered in different groups, including those pertaining to “DUS,” examination (which stands for distinctiveness, uniformity, and stability of the plant variety); the novelty of the plant variety; the right of priority; the denomination; and the cooperation in administrative matters. The document also includes the terms of reference of the working group, whose main task is to prepare proposals for consideration by the Consultative Committee concerning a possible international system of cooperation. In particular, the terms of reference stipulate that the potential international system would: not affect the responsibility of UPOV members in relation to the grant and protection of breeders’ rights; not affect the existing flexibility of UPOV members to formulate policy and to address their own specific needs and circumstances according to the relevant Act of the UPOV Convention; be based on voluntary participation by UPOV members; be based on voluntary cooperation between UPOV members; and would not affect the right of each UPOV member to conduct its own examination for the granting of breeders’ rights. The working group is expected to provide advantages and disadvantage of several solutions; evaluate the impact on domestic legislation, administrative procedures, rights and policy framework; and potential advantages and disadvantages for plant variety offices, domestic and foreign breeders, farmers, and UPOV. The following members are part of the working group: Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, the European Union, Japan, Norway, and the United States. Civil Society’s Concerns on ISC According to the Association for Plant Breeding for the Benefit of Society (APBREBES), the meeting document identifies needs of a few plant variety protection offices, but there is no empirical evidence that the need for one or two countries represents the needs of all UPOV members, and thus further action is needed. A recent survey on cooperation in DUS examination contained questions such as whether there are any practical measures that might facilitate the use of existing DUS reports and a large majority of the respondents said no, an APBREBES representative told Intellectual Property Watch. This clearly shows that the need for an international system of cooperation has not been established, she said. It also seems that a number of UPOV discussions are duplicative, as the same issues are being discussed in different committees, she added. Benin on Way to Ratifying UPOV91 A February story (in French) in la Nouvelle Tribune, a Benin newspaper, reported that Benin had taken the decision of ratifying the UPOV91 Convention. The author said Benin is following the recommendation of the Administrative Council of the Organisation Africaine de la Propriété Intellectuelle (OAPI – African Intellectual Property Organisation) that each member ratifies the UPOV91 Convention. It is not clear whether it is mandatory for OAPI members to ratify the UPOV91 Convention. The fact that least-developed countries, which have so far no obligations to fulfil the requirements of the World Trade Organisation Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), would ratify the UPOV Convention and in particular the 1991 version of the Convention, which is considered the most stringent, has raised questions from civil society (IPW, Africa, 11 June 2014). According to UPOV, Benin has not transmitted its instrument of accession to the 1991 Act of the UPOV Convention at this date. The Government of Benin has not contacted the UPOV Office for depositing the instrument, Button said. Mémassi Dosso, director of the Department of Industrial Property Protection OAPI, told Intellectual Property Watch that each member of OAPI has to individually ratify the UPOV91, in spite of the fact that OAPI itself is a UPOV member since 2014. According to UPOV’s Button, “The ratification of OAPI does not include an obligation for each of its member states to become an individual member of UPOV. Acceding to the 1991 Act of the UPOV Convention and becoming a UPOV member is a sovereign decision of each individual State or relevant intergovernmental organization in accordance with its internal procedures.” The decision of the UPOV Council of 2000 provided for the possibility for OAPI and OAPI member States to accede to the 1991 Act to the UPOV Convention on the basis of the Bangui Agreement, Button said. “Furthermore, the Resolution of the Administrative Council of OAPI that authorized the accession of OAPI to the UPOV Convention recommended OAPI member states to become UPOV members.” Image Credits: Flickr – Tonya Staab 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."UPOV This Week Focused On International Cooperation System; Benin Curiously Ratifies Twice" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.