PBR update by Bob Blazey Plant Breeder's Rights Office, Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry - Australia

WHILE 2001--02 will be memorable for some unwelcome events on the international scene, it is developing as a very positive year for those with an interest in intellectual property (IP) in plants. The third quarter has seen the delivery of a number of significant PBR projects with longterm benefits for the agricultural sector.

These projects include the introduction into Federal Parliament of a Bill to amend the Plant Breeder's Rights Act 1994 (PBRA); the establishment of a new and comprehensive Plant Breeder's Rights Database; and the drafting of a ground-breaking report on 'difficult' breeding issues, including essential derivation.

The proposed amendments to the PBRA:

  • clarify the rights of plant breeders in circumstances where restrictions are imposed
  • enhance the access of breeders to the Plant Breeder's Rights (PBR) scheme
  • improve the administration of the Act and of the PBR scheme.

The amendments will further improve the environment for plant innovation and investment in Australia and for Australian exports of IP-intensive products and services. Information on the Bill can be accessed on the Commonwealth Parliament's web site at www.aph.gov.au.

The Plant Breeder's Rights Database is an initiative that reflects the PBR Office's commitment to transparency in intellectual property protection in plants. The database is a 'world first' in terms of the standard it sets. It is our hope that, in time, such information on plant varieties will be readily accessible between all members of the International Convention/or the Protection of New Varieties of Plants on which the PBRA is based.

The database contains descriptions of all sexually and asexually propagated plant varieties in ·which Plant Breeder's Rights have been granted in Australia, as well as information on all varieties for which applications have been received. It is searchable and allows direct displays of colour images with all relevant information, including contact details of grantees/applicants. The format is 'htm!' , facilitating transfer into other software packages, such as Microsoft Word. Please explore the database at the PBR web page.

The draft Report on Clarification of Plant Breeding Issues, prepared by an expert panel, provides greater clarification of the eligibility for registration of new plant varieties arising from difficult, sometimes controversial, breeding methodologies.

The report defines ' discovery' , 'selective propagation' and 'eligible breeding' methodologies as well as canvassing questions and answers to common 'difficult' situations. The principal areas covered are the source population and associated issues relating to ownership, location, homogeneity, parentage, boundaries and selection from variable populations. The issue of essentially derived varieties and the relationship between the first and the second breeder is also explored. Those with an interest in commenting on the draft report can find it at the PBR web page.

Contact: Mr Bob Blazey 02 6272 4173 email bob.blazey@affa.gov.au PBR web site: www.affa.gov.au/pbr