Plant variety rights

Plant variety rights

A grant of plant variety rights for a new plant variety gives you the exclusive right to produce for sale and to sell propagating material of the variety.

  • Protects your specific plant variety
  • Costs a minimum of $900, excluding GST
  • Usually takes 1 to 5 years to acquire
  • Can last 20 or 23 years

Getting started

Plant variety rights (PVRs) are presently available for varieties of any kind of plant other than algae and bacteria. The word "variety" is used not in the sense of a "botanical variety", but rather as being synonymous with "cultivar" or "cultivated variety".

In the case of vegetatively propagated fruit, ornamental and vegetable varieties, Plant Variety Rights give you the additional exclusive commercial right to propagate the variety for the commercial production of fruit, flowers or other products of the variety.

By providing a tool to control commercialisation of a variety, Plant Variety Rights encourage investment and effort into plant breeding in New Zealand. You can find more details on the nature and volume of Plant Variety Rights applications in our infographics below. 

The rights scheme also allows New Zealanders access to overseas-bred varieties which would not be released here by their breeders without the protection of the legislation. As a result farmers, horticultural producers and home gardeners gain access to an increased number and range of improved varieties.

A grant of plant variety rights may be made if:

  • it is new,
  • it is distinct, sufficiently uniform and stable,
  • it has an acceptable denomination, and
  • formalities are met.


Managing PVRs

The protection given to a breeder by a grant of PVR resembles that given to an inventor by a patent grant, but there are significant differences between these two forms of IP rights.

As a plant variety rights holder you may license others to produce for sale and to sell propagating material of the protected variety. Rights holders commonly collect royalties from the commercialisation of their protected varieties.

As with other types of proprietary rights, you may bring civil action against persons or businesses infringing your rights. Other people are free to:

  • grow or use a protected variety for non-commercial purposes,
  • use the plants or parts of the protected variety for human consumption or other non-propagating purposes,
  • use a protected variety for plant breeding.

Note: It is an offence under the Plant Variety Rights Act 1987 to:

  • falsely claim someone to be an applicant or holder of Rights,
  • falsely claim, when selling material of a variety, that the variety is protected by Rights or is subject of an application,
  • sell reproductive material of a variety without using the variety denomination.