Thursday, September 11, 2008

Patent Act_38

What is the criteria for deciding protection of a plant varieties ?

There are 5 main criteria to arrive at a decision whether a plant variety is really new or not. These have remained unchanged between 1978 and 1991 Acts of the Convention. These criteria are:

1. Distinctness : The variety shall be deemed to be distinct if it is clearly Discountable from any other variety whose existence is a matter of common knowledge at the time of filing of the application .The object of this criterion is to ensure that the candidate variety can be identified amongst all other varieties whose existence is known, whether or not they are protected. An application for protection or for the entry of a variety in an official register in any country causes the variety to be recorded as a matter of common knowledge. In other words, the application for the protection should be filed with UPOV before disclosing it to any other agency.

2. Uniformity: The variety shall be deemed to be uniform if, subject to the variation that may be accepted from the particular features of its propagation, it is sufficiently uniform in its relevant characteristics.The objective of this criterion is to ensure that the individuals representing the variety which is a candidate of protection, form a group which is identifiable on the basis of the description of its characteristics. In other words, the variation between individuals within a variety must be less than that within a species. In the absence of this condition it would become impossible to identify distinct varieties within species.
The degree of uniformity is determined taking into account the mode of reproduction of the species and all the genetic structure of varieties. The same levels of uniformity cannot be required for a strictly self pollinating species or for a species which is vegetatively propagated. An acceptable level of uniformity would ensure that it can be used for agricultural production. In this regard the difference between the protection, given by UPOV and patent system can be noted.

3. Stability: The variety shall be deemed to be stable if its relevant characteristics remain unchanged after repeated propagation or, in the case of a particular cycle of propagation at the end of each such cycle. The idea is to ensure that the variety will be identical to the description established at the moment of granting protection after repeated propagation.
Stability, as well as uniformity may be lost if the rights holder fails to maintain the variety true to the description established when the rights were granted.

4. Novelty: The variety shall be deemed to be new if, at the date of filing of the application for breeders right, propagating or harvesting material of the variety has not been sold or otherwise disposed of to others, by or with the consent of the breeder for the purpose of exploitation of the variety. It is also understood that a variety to which people have had free access in the past cannot be protected because then the interest of those who have relied on the free access, will suffer.
As it is some time necessary to see the response of the market to new varieties before deciding whether or not to apply for protection, grace period has been included. The period is one year prior to the date of application in the country where the application is filed and in countries other than that in which the application has been filed and six years in case of trees and vines and four years for all other species.

5. Appropriate denomination: The variety shall be designated by a denomination which will be its generic designation. The premise that the variety denomination must be its generic designation class for a requirement that 'denomination must enable the variety to be identified'. Users and consumers need to have some method of knowing that a sample is a sample of a particular identified plant variety; because it is often not possible to identify it from its appearance. This is facilitated by requiring that a specific denomination and only that denomination be used to identify a variety in trade.

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