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Legal experts decode rules for plant variety protection registration

Legal experts in plant variety protection noted that registering a new plant variety in India, although time-consuming, can be simplified with a clear understanding of Indian regulatory and legislative frameworks. Steps involved in this registration process were clarified at a recent webinar, along with definitions and various key aspects of the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act, 2001 (PPVFR Act).

Dr Neeti Wilson, a subject expert and partner at the law firm Anand & Anand, and Dr Surya Mani Tripathi, legal counsel at ICRISAT, took the participants through each step in the plant variety registration process during the webinar, which was moderated by Ms Ankita Tyagi, Senior Manager IP, European Business & Technology Centre (EBTC).

Dr Wilson began described the legal scenario and legislative framework for plant protection in the country. She emphasized that, besides the rules and regulations, there were several public notices issued by the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Authority (PPV&FR Authority), Government of India. Some of these public notices include regulations and must be paid close attention to. “For example, last year a public notice was issued on hybrid varieties as to why the hybrids would be registered in a combined manner with their parent line so the notices are very important when we are looking at plant protection variety in India,” Dr Wilson added.

Preparing to file plant variety protection application

Dr Wilson described the criteria for a plant variety to be registered under the PPVFR Act. Currently there are 4,098 registered varieties under the PPVFR Act and 158 species up for registration. She noted that Indian legislative framework was still ‘young’ and evolving in phases. This is because India is developing testing guidelines for each species and that process is time-consuming.

The speakers discussed various milestones in the registration process, noting that the process begins two years before the actual application. They also provided a brief overview on the gamut of applications, forms and fees that need to be planned for, and addressed for a registering a new plant variety. For the pre-application phase, collating all the information on the breeding history and data related to uniformity and stability is a very critical part. “Apart from the forms, the statement of distinctness is the most critical aspect of the application process. This is statement that compares your plant variety with other varieties and shows distinct traits with the support of declarations you submit,” said Dr Wilson.

Plant variety registration procedure

The registration of a plant variety contains four main processes and each process has several steps. The process begins with the application to the Registrar, PPV&FR Authority. “While registration seems looks long and confusing, it can get easier once you become familiar with the processes,” Dr Wilson said. The details of the registration process, the testing phase and the validity of the certificate were also discussed during the webinar.

India’s unique plant protection act
Dr Surya Mani Tripathi highlighted the fact that many countries have taken a cue from India when it comes to drafting their own plant variety protection laws. Although existing International systems that can reduce the registration time exist, India chose to have its own to protect rights of small and marginal farmers that international systems do not allow for.

This webinar, part of a series jointly organized by the European Business & Technology Centre (EBTC) and the Intellectual Property Facilitation Cell (IPFC) at AIP of ICRISAT, was organized on 30 October 2020. A total of 240 participants including scientists, researchers, breeders and farmers took part in the webinar.

A recording of the webinar can be viewed here.

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