The Plant Variety Rights Bill was introduced to Parliament and had its first reading at the end of May 2021. The Bill has been referred to the Economic Development, Science and Innovation select committee for consideration and submissions on the Bill are now open until 1 July 2021.
NZ Plant Producers will make a submission on behalf of members. Please get in touch with NZ Plant Producers Science and Technology Manager Kathryn Hurr firstname.lastname@example.org
if you have an interest in contributing to the submission.
The introduction of the Bill follows years of consultation with the public and industry groups. It modernizes the plant variety rights regime to give effect to UPOV 1991 and implement the Crown’s obligations under the Treaty of Waitangi, providing some protection for kaitiaki relationships with taonga species.
There are a number of key and important changes in the new Bill compared to the current PVR Act 1987, including:
- Essentially Derived Varieties are now included in the Bill, meaning that where a new variety is bred from an initial variety and retains the essential characteristics of that initial variety, the legislation now provides some recognition for the initial variety.
- There are broader provisions for the exclusive rights for holders of a protected plant variety, including restrictions on production or reproduction, conditioning for the purpose of propagation, selling or offering for sale or other marketing, importing or exporting, or stocking for the purposing of undertaking any other restricted activity, all in relation to propagating material of the protected variety.
- The requirement for new varieties to be ‘distinct’ for eligibility for protection has been enhanced by defining it as ‘clearly distinguishable from any other plant variety whose existence is a matter of common knowledge at the application date’. This is higher than the current standard of simply ‘distinguishable’.
- There are provisions around a process for consultation with kaitiaki for indigenous plant species and non-indigenous plant species of significance. There is a range of requirements for species that fall into these categories, and a Maori Plant Varieties Committee is set up to assist with consideration and advice in relation to such varieties.
- A woody plant obtains protection for 25 years from the date of grant, up from 23 years currently.
- Growing trials are required for all applications, and the type required is to be directed by the Commissioner.
- Any appeal of a decision under the new legislation will go to the High Court, rather than the District Court.
From here the Government is looking to consult on Regulations to support the Bill, including a review of PVR fees.