Plant Variety Rights
The Plant Variety Rights Act 1987 provides intellectual property rights to plant breeders who create cultivated plant varieties that are new, distinct, homogeneous and stable. The Act applies to all types of plants and fungi, but not bacterium or alga. A variety will only be novel if there have been no consented sales of that variety in New Zealand more than 12 months prior to the date of the application, or overseas more than six years for woody species or four years for other species.
The following factors can help determine whether a Plant Variety is sufficiently distinct from other varieties whose existence was common knowledge at the application date:
(i) varieties set out in the UPOV Convention are part of common knowledge, although unnamed varieties, ecotypes and landraces can also be part of common knowledge;
(ii) commercialised plant material of the variety, where commercialisation covers propagation, cultivation and marketing in the public domain;
(iii) existence of living plant material in publicly accessible collections;
(iv) publication of a detailed variety description, including a granted breeders right or plant patent or inclusion in an official or voluntary register, list or other publication in the public domain.
Overseas applicants who have made an originating application in a recognised convention country can file in New Zealand with 12-months of that originating application.
During examination the Commissioner may require a detailed description of the variety, including the pedigree, botanical features and the distinguishing features of the variety, and may also request reproductive material of the variety.
Upon registration the plant breeder can prevent others from profiting from their unique cultivation for 23 years for woody plant or its rootstock, or 20 years in every other case, subject to the payment of an annual grant fee.