Plant Variety Rights Act 2022 and Regulations to commence January 2023

Further to our earlier updates (here and here) on the passage of the New Zealand Plant Variety Rights Bill, the Bill had its third reading before Parliament on 16 November 2022, received Royal Assent on 18 November, and the Plant Variety Rights Act 2022 will commence on 24 January 2023 (with the exception of subpart 3 of Part 5 of the new Act).

As stated in section 3 of the Act, which can be found here, the purposes of the Act are:

(a) to provide an efficient and effective plant variety rights system that revises and consolidates the law on plant variety rights in the light of New Zealand’s obligations under the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) in relation to the UPOV Convention:

(b) to protect kaitiaki relationships with taonga species and mātauranga Māori in the plant variety rights system:

(c) to promote innovation and economic growth in New Zealand by providing incentives for the development and use of new plant varieties while maintaining an appropriate balance between the interests of plant breeders, growers, and others so there is a net benefit to society as a whole.

Practical key changes noted by IPONZ are:

  • The Plant Variety Rights Act 2022 will implement extended exclusive rights provided for by UPOV 91, the most recent international agreement on PVR protection, including:
  • The extension of rights to the marketing, exporting, importing and conditioning of propagating material.
  • The extension of these rights to “essentially derived varieties”.
  • The extension of these rights to harvested material, in certain situations.
  • The continuation of existing farm-saved seed provisions, due to the exemption of farm-saved seed from the coverage of the new rights.
  • The implementation of a public interest test for compulsory licences.
  • The new Act will implement changes according to the recommendations of the Wai 262 report, including:
  • The establishment of a Māori Plant Varieties Committee. This Committee will support early engagement between breeders and kaitiaki, assess the impact of a PVR grant on kaitiaki relationships, and make determinations on whether certain applications should or should not proceed.
  • New disclosure requirements on breeders when working with indigenous plant species or other species of significance to Māori.
  • The ability to refuse the grant of a PVR if kaitiaki interests are affected.
For those unfamiliar with the concepts kaitiaki, taonga and mātauranga Māori, the 'kaitiaki relationship' could be considered as guardianship or stewardship, 'taonga species' can be seen as treasured species or those of special significance to Māori and 'mātauranga Māori ' is often equated with Māori traditional knowledge.  However, these concepts are complex and extend beyond this mere transliteration.

Please contact us if you would like further information or assistance with Plant Variety Rights or any other intellectual property matters.

Jesse Strafford - December 2022

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