Plant Variety Rights (PVR) are a form of intellectual property. As a result, upholding or enforcing these rights are solely the responsibility of the Rights holder. The management of protected varieties varies greatly depending on the plant species and the objective and approach of the Rights holder.
The Plant Variety Rights Act
The Plant Variety Rights Act 2022 commenced on 24 January 2023. Applications filed prior to this date are subject to the provisions of the Plant Variety Rights Act 1987.
Under the Plant Variety Rights Act 1987, the grant of rights gives the owner of the variety the exclusive right to produce for sale and sell propagating material of the variety. In addition, if the variety is a vegetatively propagated fruit-producing, ornamental or vegetable-producing plant, the owner has the exclusive right to propagate the variety for the commercial production of fruit, flowers, or other products from the variety.
These rights do not prevent any person from:
- Propagating, growing or using the variety for non-commercial purposes;
- Creating a hybrid or new variety from the protected variety (so long as this does not require repeated use of the protected variety); or
- Using reproductive material from the variety for human consumption or other non-reproductive purposes.
Section 17 of the Plant Variety Rights Act 1987 and Section 20 of the Plant Variety Rights Act 2022 make it clear that Plant Variety Rights are property rights, which can be dealt with in much the same way as any other property right. In other words, they can be licensed, sold and mortgaged. In addition, the owner or a licensee can bring civil proceedings where their rights in a variety have been breached.
Section 17 of the Plant Variety Rights Act 1987 — Legislation New Zealand
Section 20 of the Plant Variety Rights ACt 2022 — Legislation New Zealand
The PVR Office cannot offer legal advice or assistance. If you are a PVR owner or licensee and are concerned that those rights have been breached, or you have been approached by an owner or licensee of rights concerning your use of a protected variety, you should seek your own legal advice.
Any infringement action taken by a variety owner or licensee against another party is a private matter between the owner or licensee and the alleged infringer. The PVR Office does not offer an adjudication service for private infringement matters. That is, we cannot get involved in or take sides in disputes, nor can we act as a referee.
Requesting PVR Office opinion and technical assistance
PVR infringements are a specialised area, and the PVR Office can provide only a limited range of assistance. Any assistance is provided on the basis that it will be made available, without comment, amendment or question, to all parties to the dispute.
If the action concerns variety identification or distinguishing between varieties, the PVR Office can make available variety descriptions and other descriptive information such as photographs to assist the parties. The PVR Office can also, on the payment of our normal fees, carry out growing trials and other plant-to-plant comparisons. The result of any trial, including a summary of our observations and recordings, will be provided to all parties, but the results will not state any definitive conclusions.
In addition, the PVR Office will comment on specific cases, but only with the understanding that what we say is available to all parties without further comment, question or amendment, and that it has no binding status. We would normally expect any requests for assistance to be made with the agreement of all parties to the dispute.
In order to preserve the independence of the PVR Office, we may refuse to provide advice where that is not the case.