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Plant Variety Right (PVR)

Definition : Plant Variety Right (PVR)

The Plant Variety Right ('PVR') is a title of industrial property recognizing an exclusive right to the exploitation of a plant variety. The aim is to protect the fruit of the breeder's activity for any plant material (cultivar horticultural or seed agricultural).

The PVR is therefore an instrument of intellectual property which confers on its holder an exclusive right to a newly created or discovered plant variety. It is issued by the competent national authorities, usually intellectual property offices, and is valid for a limited period (usually 20 to 25 years).

The PVR is designed to encourage innovation and the creation of new plant varieties, by enabling breeders to recoup the investment required for research and development. It also protects farmers' rights, enabling them to cultivate protected varieties without being sued for infringement.

To obtain a PVR, the breeder must prove that the plant variety meets certain criteria of novelty, uniformity, stability and utility. The COV holder has the exclusive right to produce, reproduce, package, offer for sale, sell or import reproductive material of the protected variety. However, farmers have the right to use the products of their own harvest for replanting, under certain conditions.

PVRs are governed by the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV), which sets standards and criteria for the protection of plant varieties internationally.

PVRs give rise to a number of legal problems, including :

  1. Intellectual property issues. PVRs are intellectual property instruments that give their holder an exclusive right to a newly created or discovered plant variety. This can lead to intellectual property disputes between PVR holders and farmers or other breeders.
  2. Conflicts of interest. PVRs can also give rise to conflicts of interest between plant variety breeders and farmers. Farmers may be restricted in their ability to use protected varieties for replanting or to exchange seed, which can impact on their farming practice.
  3. Biodiversity issues. PVRs can also have an impact on biodiversity, by limiting the diversity of seeds available and favoring commercial varieties over local or traditional ones.
  4. Food safety issues. PVRs can also raise food safety issues, particularly with regard to the resistance of protected plant varieties to diseases and pests, as well as their adaptability to changing climatic conditions.
  5. Food sovereignty issues. Finally, PVRs can raise issues of food sovereignty, particularly with regard to the ability of states to protect their genetic heritage and control food production within their borders.

Because of these and other legal issues, PVRs are often the subject of debate and controversy in the agricultural and environmental fields.