New Zealand has been a member of the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) since 1981, one of 78 member states using a common and effective system of plant variety protection. Member states adhere to the 1978 Convention, or the current 1991 Convention, with the common purpose to encourage breeders to develop new varieties of plants.
New Zealand is an active participant in the various UPOV Committees and Technical Working Parties and works cooperatively with other member states and non-member states to promote and develop technical and administrative best practice within plant variety protection.
UPOV also has an online plant variety database called PLUTO, which can be for searching international applications based on various criteria such as UPOV code.
Any denomination proposed for a new variety must conform to internationally accepted guidelines. If a proposed denomination is not acceptable, the Commissioner will reject it and ask for an acceptable alternative.
More information can be found at:
PLUTO Plant Variety Database — UPOV
Explanatory notes on variety denominations under the UPOV convention (1 November 2012) (PDF, 167 KB) — UPOV
Summary of UPOV recommendations for variety denominations
UPOV have developed recommendations for members regarding variety denominations. These are summarised below.
The variety shall be designated by a denomination which is generic. The use of the denomination cannot be restricted by any other designation, such as a trademark, even after the Right for the variety has expired.
1. The denomination must enable the variety to be clearly identified and may not consist solely of figures unless that is the established practice for that genus or type of variety. For example, parent lines, inbred lines, hybrids.
2. The denomination must not be liable to mislead and should not convey the impression that the variety:
- has particular characteristics which in fact it does not
- possesses a character, when other varieties also have or may have the same character
- is derived from another variety when it is not, and/or
- is bred by a particular breeder when that is not the case.
3. The denomination must not cause confusion concerning the value or identity of the variety by the use of some superlatives, simple descriptive phrases and the use of a denomination which is very similar to another existing denomination. A difference of a single letter or number between 2 denominations may be considered to cause confusion and poorly identify the variety.
4. The denomination must be different from any existing variety of the same genus or species or a closely related species. The re-use of a denomination is generally to be avoided, although this may be acceptable if it relates to a variety that no longer exists.
The denomination of the variety shall be proposed by the breeder to the Plant Variety Rights Office. It is not the role of the Plant Variety Rights Office to propose a variety denomination. Should the denomination be rejected, the breeder is required to propose another denomination. The denomination shall only be approved by the Plant Variety Rights Office at the time of grant of the Right.
The prior rights of third persons shall not be affected by the use of the proposed denomination. A denomination cannot be accepted if another right, already granted to a third party under any intellectual property legislation, is already in use.
A variety must be submitted to all UPOV member states under the same denomination. The Plant Variety Rights Office will accept denominations submitted in other states unless the denomination is unsuitable for New Zealand. This recommendation reflects the importance of a single variety denomination for each variety worldwide.
The Plant Variety Rights Office will publish all proposed variety denominations in the Plant Variety Rights Journal and ensure that all UPOV member states are kept informed of matters concerning variety denominations in New Zealand.
There is an obligation and a requirement under the Plant Variety Rights Act 1987 for any person who offers for sale or markets propagating material for a variety within New Zealand to use the denomination of that variety, even after the Right for that variety has expired.
When a variety is offered for sale or marketed it is acceptable to associate a trademark, trade name or other indication with the variety denomination. The denomination must be easily recognisable and placed between single quotation marks.
Variety denomination classes
A variety denomination cannot be used more than once in the same class. In most cases a denomination class is equal to a genus, with the following exceptions forming special classes.
- Class 1.1 Brassica oleracea
- Class 1.2 Brassica other than Brassica oleracea
- Class 2.1 Beta vulgaris L. var. alba DC., Beta vulgaris L. var. altissima
- Class 2.2 Beta vulgaris ssp. vulgaris var. conditiva Alef. (syn.: B. vulgaris L. var. rubra L.), B. vulgaris L. var. cicla L., B. vulgaris L. ssp. vulgaris var. vulgaris
- Class 2.3 Beta other than classes 2.1 and 2.2.
- Class 3.1 Cucumis sativus
- Class 3.2 Cucumis melo
- Class 3.3 Cucumis other than classes 3.1 and 3.2
- Class 4.1 Solanum tuberosum L.
- Class 4.2 Tomato and Tomato rootstocks Solanum lycopersicum L. plus related species and hybrids
- Class 4.3 Solanum melongena L.
- Class 4.4 Solanum other than class 4.1, 4.2, 4.3
- Class 201 Secale, Triticale, Triticum
- Class 202 Panicum, Setaria, Megathyrsus, Steinchisma
- Class 203 Agrostis, Dactylis, Festuca, Festulolium, Lolium, Phalaris,
Phleum, Poa and Epichloe
- Class 204 Lotus, Medicago, Ornithopus, Onobrychis, Trifolium
- Class 205 Cichorium, Lactuca
- Class 206 Petunia and Calibrachoa
- Class 207 Chrysanthemum and Ajania
- Class 208 (Statice) Goniolimon, Limonium, Psylliostachys
- Class 209 (Waxflower) Chamelaucium, Verticordia
- Class 210 Jamesbrittania and Sutera
- Class 211 Mushrooms Agaricus, Agrocybe, Auricularia, Dictyophora, Flammulina, Ganoderma, Grifola, Hericium, Hypsizigus, Lentinula, Lepista, Lyophyllum, Meripilus, Mycoleptodonoides, Naematoloma, Panellus, Pholiota, Pleurotus, Polyporus, Sparassis, Tricholoma
- Class 212 Verbena L. and Glandularia J.F.Gmel.
- Class 213 Eupatorium L. including all botanical synonyms