If there is one element that has brought about an evolution in agricultural production, it is the improvement of plant varieties. Thanks to characteristics such as resistance to pests and diseases or better productivity, they have led to a substantial increase in the improvement of all kinds of products related to agriculture, horticulture or forestry. And, of course, the research and development of new plant varieties requires a great deal of time and resources. This is why it is so important to take their protection into account.
According to the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV), it is necessary to narrow down the explanation into categories in order to understand it better. Within the plant kingdom, the term “species” is used as a unit of classification and, within this label, there are different types of plants with different characteristics. To group together more precisely those groups of plants that have common characteristics, the term ‘plant variety‘ is used. As an example, we can say that the apple is a species within the plant kingdom, but when we talk about a Golden apple, we are talking about a plant variety.
Changes to plant variety rights holders in the UK
From 1 January 2024, in accordance with the UK’s EU withdrawal agreement, the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) will require an address for notifications in the UK, or the address of an agent in the UK, from those holders of plant variety rights in the European Union. This is, of course, provided that these holders wish to continue to maintain their variety rights under UK law.
This measure affects all holders whose applications for processing had not been granted at least two months before the end of the Brexit transitional period. The APHA, which grants plant variety rights in the UK, has already started contacting holders to speed up the process.
Plant varieties with protection granted by the Community Plant Variety Office with effect from 31 December 2020 remain protected under UK law for the remainder of their useful life.
I am a plant variety holder, what should I do?
APHA urges holders to provide a number of details. Firstly, you need to confirm that you are the holder and that you wish to continue to have your protection in the UK or if you wish to waive those rights. In addition, an APHA Excel form must be filled in, listing the plant variety rights retained in the EU.
Holders, as mentioned at the beginning of the article, must provide the agency with an address for notification purposes (their own or an agent’s) regardless of whether the holder is established in the UK or not. They must also sign a PVS11 agent authorisation form.
Where there has been a change of holder of a plant variety right since 31 December 2020, an APHA transfer of rights form (PVC10) must be completed and a copy of the Community Plant Variety Office website showing that the EU rights holder has indeed changed must be provided.
Once all the required information has been provided, the right will be issued with a grant number, the information will be stored in the APHA database and the decision will be published through official means.
In case of failure to provide the required information, from 1 January 2024 the right may be terminated.
If you have any queries related to plant varieties or need any kind of advice, PONTI & PARTNERS will help you to find a solution.