12 I EUROPEAN SEED I EUROPEAN-SEED.COM A STRONG IP SYSTEM IS CRUCIAL FOR INNOVATION IN PLANT BREEDING Plant breeding is a global and highly innovative activity. Companies invest heavily in the creation of new varieties; the average annual R&D investment mounts to 20-25 per cent of net sales (source: EU Commission Annual Global Survey). To ensure the return on investment and to stimulate new innova- tion, a strong Plant Breeders’ Right (PBR) system is needed. However, putting in place good regulations and a strong IP rights system for plants cannot rule out piracy in the world of plants. Therefore, it is crucial to have good instruments and procedures to enforce your rights. HOW TO EFFECTIVELY ENFORCE YOUR PLANT BREEDERS’ RIGHTS? Titleholders are responsible for the maintenance of their IP rights. Often this very specialized task of checking the market for infringing plant material is out-sourced to partners like Anti- Infringements Bureau (AIB) for vegetables, Breeders Trust for field crops or Royalty Administration International (RAI) for vegetatively propagated crops. These partners act like police (C.I.D) officers. They try to prevent and to track down piracy by inspecting growers and licensees regularly. When they detect something suspicious, they try to safeguard the potential evi- dence. This is a serious challenge and often requires an approval of the judge to collect the suspected plant material. Several kinds of piracy can be distinguished as acts that violate the PBR of a protected variety: 1) illegal vegetative reproduction of grafted PBR crops. 2) reproduction of seeds of open-pollinated PBR crops; misuse of a popular variety to sell plants or seeds of inferior quality using this name (including mislabelling, fake logo’s and packages). 3) F2 production of PBR hybrids. 4) theft of parental lines and unauthorised sale of F1 hybrids. (Source: annual AIB infringement surveys 2010-17). NAKTUINBOUW AS THE ACCREDITED, INDEPENDENT EXPERT Naktuinbouw, as an independent autonomous public body, devel- oped a forensic tool, called ‘Variety Tracer’ to be applied in cases of suspicion of infringement. As Naktuinbouw is the only organi- sation in the Netherlands appointed by the government to assess varieties of nearly all crops for distinctness, uniformity and sta- bility (DUS) testing for registration and Plant Breeders' Rights (via the Board for Plant Varieties), morphological knowledge on many crops and on the PBR system is assured. Since 2004, Naktuinbouw also established a laboratory facility for variety identification using genotyping technologies. It is the combi- nation (and the synergy) of these elements (fields of expertise) that guarantees the power of Variety Tracer. VARIETY TRACER – HOW DOES IT WORK? To investigate a potential infringement of PBR a Variety Tracer research project can be initiated. In a Variety Tracer project often, a combination of morphological side-by-side growing trials and genetic research is applied, but just a growing trial or only a genetic analysis is also possible. Since every potential infringe- ment is unique, a custom-made research plan is needed. Together with the titleholder of the PBR, the particular infringement and special crop-specific information is discussed. For example, an outcrossing crop in which a lot of diversity is expected within CSI IN THE WORLD OF PLANTS A CLOSER LOOK AT THE ‘SHERLOCK HOLMES’ CONCEPT IN INFRINGEMENTS MATTERS. BY: HEDWICH TEUNISSEN HEDWICH TEUNISSEN In 2004, Naktuinbouw established a laboratory facility for variety identification using genotyping technologies.