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How SMEs Can Benefit from Plant Variety Protection

Plant breeding results in new, improved plant varieties that are an important and sustainable means of achieving food security in the context of population growth and climate change.

Vipin Saini
Plant Variety Protection
Plant Variety Protection

Plant breeding results in new, improved plant varieties that are an important and sustainable means of achieving food security in the context of population growth and climate change. 

New varieties that are adapted to the environment in which they are grown increase the choice of healthy, tasty and nutritious food while generating a viable income for farmers. New varieties also support the development of urban agriculture and the growing of ornamental plants, shrubs and trees that contribute to improving the lives of people in the expanding urban environment. 

Successful plant breeding requires great skill and knowledge in a process that can take up to 15 years to introduce a new plant variety to the market. Not all new plant varieties are successful, even though the best prospects are selected from thousands of individuals during the breeding process. Sustained and long-term breeding efforts are only worthwhile if there is a chance to be rewarded for the investment made, which is why plant variety protection (PVP) is an important system for plant breeders. 

Five ways the UPOV system is suited to SMEs 

The UPOV system was specifically created to address the particular needs of plant breeders and is well suited to SMEs. 

1. Entering the breeding sector

The “breeder’s exception” plays a key role for SMEs, by allowing breeders to use protected varieties for further breeding, thus reducing the “barriers to entry” for SMEs wishing to enter the plant breeding business. 

2. A simple and harmonized application system

UPOV has developed model application forms, which means that information requested in PVP applications is very similar in all UPOV members. The UPOV PRISMA online application tool helps SMEs make their applications to PVP Offices of participating UPOV member countries. Particular advantages for SMEs include the possibility to find all PVP Office procedures in one place, the ability to read application forms in their chosen language and the translation of predefined responses in those languages. 

3. Cost efficient system of variety examination

UPOV has achieved a high degree of harmonization in the examination of PVP applications. This facilitates cooperation and reduces time and costs for applicants. For example, as soon as a UPOV member has examined a variety, the results may be used by the authority of another member. 

4. Licensing opportunities

Obtaining PVP means that plant breeders can develop a licensing strategy for the production and marketing of their varieties, domestically and around the world. 

5. Partnerships

PVP also enables plant breeders to develop partnerships to achieve common objectives. For example, a plant breeder may have the knowledge and expertise for research but may not have the infrastructure or the experience required for successful production and marketing. In this situation, farmers and growers associations, seed producers and/or processors, for example in the milling industry, can join ranks to assist in the financing of a breeding program and enable the multiplication and marketing of the resulting varieties. Ownership can be shared in different ways according to the contribution of each partner. 

UPOV Background 

The International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) is an intergovernmental organization with headquarters in Geneva (Switzerland). 

UPOV was established by the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants. The Convention was adopted in Paris in 1961 and it was revised in 1972, 1978 and 1991. 

UPOV's mission is to provide and promote an effective system of plant variety protection, with the aim of encouraging the development of new varieties of plants, for the benefit of society. 

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