CIOPORA, the International Association of Breeders of Asexually Reproduced Ornamental and Fruit Varieties, is working with United Kingdom and European Union government bodies to ensure a smooth transition for the horticulture plant breeding industry throughout the Brexit process.
“Nearly all commercially important ornamental and fruit varieties grown and consumed in the UK are currently protected by Community Plant Variety Rights (CPVR). As it stands, Brexit could pose a threat to the UK horticulture industry if the protection of this intellectual property (IP) is not endured past the Exit Day of March 30, 2019,” said Dr. Edgar Krieger, Secretary General of CIOPORA. “CIOPORA is dedicated to representing the interests of plant breeders in regard to their IP Rights and assisting the governments in a proper transition of these rights.”
Enduring Validity of Community Plant Variety Rights in the UK
At the end of 2016, a total of 25,150 varieties were protected in the EU by Community Plant Variety Right titles, of which 14,000 varieties belonged to ornamental and fruit species, and one can assume that in March 2019 more than 27,000 varieties will be protected in the EU via CPVR titles. CIOPORA is working to ensure breeders that these EU-protected varieties are seamlessly transferred to UK territory for the complete duration of the title period that was originally granted to the titleholders.
According to Dr. Krieger, the main points in relation to the validity of rights are:
- All CPVR titles, which are granted prior to the Exit Day, should be converted into UK titles.
- This should apply also to CPVR titles, where the application was filed prior to the Exit Day and the grant takes place after Exit Day. If not, at least the application date should be accepted as application date for UK PBR, in order to avoid a loss of novelty.
- For all things that happen entirely after the Exit Day, the breeders who wish to obtain PBR protection in the EU and in the UK most likely must apply for both CPVR and UK PBR. This will result in additional administrative burden and costs. A possible solution to this burden would be for the UK to expand the effect of all – existing and future – CPVR titles to the UK territory, under the enforcement regime of the UK; however, this is unlikely to happen.
DUS Examinations and Reports
A more practical aspect concerns the DUS examinations of new varieties. The Examination Offices in the UK play a crucial role in DUS examinations for plant varieties applying for CPVR. They are entrusted by the Community Plant Variety Office (CPVO) for more than 850 species. For more than 650 out of these species (mostly ornamentals), so far there is no alternative entrusted Examination Office in the EU.
CIOPORA requests a smooth transition of DUS examinations that considers the need of the breeding industry. Breeders have requested that the CPVO not make abrupt policy changes regarding the allocation of examinations of species which are currently tested in the UK. Should a reallocation be necessary, the breeders have asked that the CPVO ensures that the quality of the examinations remains and that there is no delay in the granting of CPVR titles due to any shifts in examination offices.
CIOPORA is working with the EU and UK as well as with the CPVO to communicate regularly and clearly to stakeholders on the changes coming up in the proceedings as a result of the BREXIT negotiations.