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Plant Breeder’s Rights/Plant Variety Rights and National Listing

Date: 29 January 2021


1. What are plant breeder's or variety rights?


In both the UK and the EU it is possible to obtain property rights in new plant varieties. These are called Plant Breeder’s Rights (PBRs), or sometimes Plant Variety Rights. Once granted, these rights give the owner the sole right to the following activities in the jurisdiction:


  • use of the variety for production or reproduction,
  • sell/offer it for sale,
  • alter it for propagation
  • export or import it
  • keep stock for any reason


In order to market a new plant variety in the United Kingdom it is necessary to obtain a National Listing for the variety, otherwise it cannot be legally sold.


2. What kind of plant varieties qualify?


The definition of “plant variety” is given as a plant grouping within a single botanical taxon of the lowest known rank, which grouping can be defined by the expression of the characteristics resulting from a given genotype or combination of genotypes, distinguished from any other plant grouping by the expression of at least one of the said characteristics and considered as a unit with regard to its suitability for being propagated unchanged.


A variety may not consist of plants of more than one species. The phrase “combination of genotypes” does however mean that synthetic varieties and hybrids will qualify.


To qualify for protection a variety must be new, distinct, uniform and stable. A distinct variety is one that has different characteristics to other plant of the same species. To be classed as uniform, it is necessary for all plants within the variety to share the same characteristics. A stable variety is one that remains unchanged after repeated propagation.


3. Who can apply for a PBR?


The right to apply for protection is restricted to the breeder of the variety. Note that an employer owns the rights to plant varieties created by its employees.


Maucher Jenkins’ attorneys are registered with the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) as agents and can assist in the application process or apply on your behalf via UPOV. Please contact us for the required authorisation form.


4. How long do these rights last?


The rights last for 25 years from grant for plants and 30 years from grant for vines, trees and potatoes.


5. Are there any exceptions?


A holder of PBRs cannot prevent third parties from using the protected variety for private and non-commercial purposes; experimental purposes, or for the purpose of breeding another variety.



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