Tag Archives: PVP

“Patents and Vegetable Crop Diversity”

There was a Patently-O post that came out during the New Year holiday period (thanks VHA for sending the link to me).  The title of the post was “Patents and Vegetable Crop Diversity” and included a paper of the same name published in November 2009.  The authors (Paul Heald & Susannah Chapman) open the paper saying:

“the data presented … strongly suggest that the intellectual property system (including the Plant Patent Act, the Plant Variety Protection Act, and utility patents…) plays an insignificant role in vegetable crop diversity, with the possible exception of corn”

Patently-O highlighted the following findings of the study:

  • “Only 3.8% of varieties available in 2004 were ever subject to protection under patent law or the Plant Variety Protection Act (PVPA);
  • More than 16% of all vegetable varieties that have ever been patented were commercially available in 2004; and
  • In 2004, approximately 4.5% of protected, or once protected, varieties consisted of inventions that were at least twenty years old.”

Visit this link to read or download the paper.  Also included in the post was a link to a previous paper from the same authors suggesting “vegetable crop diversity increased in the past century”.   I wanted to highlight the summary from that paper which can be read or downloaded HERE:

“The primary argument for maintaining crop diversity is based on the need to maintain a safety net of genetic diversity, to have a broad supply of genes available to breeders who can create more productive, weather-hardy, insect resistant, fungus resistant, and better-tasting crops. We hope our findings stimulate a discussion about the proper measure for that diversity. If the meaning of diversity is linked to the survival of ancient varieties, then the lessons of the twentieth century are grim. If it refers instead to the multiplicity of present choices available to breeders, then the story is more hopeful. Perhaps the most accurate measure of diversity would be found in a comparative DNA analysis of equal random samples of old and new varieties, work that remains to be done.“

(On a lighter note; I couldn’t help smiling reading the comments on the blog post.  Most of them were left 1st January, and it seems those commenting might have had just one too many during the festive period…  However for the record I soberly agree with them that Patently-O is a great blog!)

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“Modern seeds”, traditional varieties and Plant Variety Protection (PVP)

http://allafrica.com/stories/200909100188.html
Interesting article from Allafrica.com.  It deals with a thorny collection of the issues surrounding seed, increasing use of UPOV protection by seed developers, the rights of farmers, genetic diversity and the livelihoods of poor farmers.

The AllAfrica write up also references a news release that was on the International Institute for Environment & Development (IIED) website.  This article also includes several references to the loss of benefit to small-scale farmers from new variety development.  The IIED say in their post:

“Small-scale farmers rarely benefit when outsiders such as corporate plant breeders make use of their traditional seeds to develop new varieties, because the plant breeders acquire the intellectual property rights when they test and register the new varieties.”

It is worth pointing out that IPRs over a new variety don’t affect the rights of the traditional variety used in the breeding.  The public sector should be aware of the workings of the formal IP sector to be able protect its public goods effectively.  Being proactive about cataloguing and listing known varieties in common knowledge databases will avoid confusion about what is new and what is not!  This is critical information to a PVP examiner processing an application for a “new” variety.   The PVP system could also help ensure existing knowledge remains free from restriction, but of course only if that “existing knowledge” is specified and accessible to examiners.

Seems we weren’t the only ones to raise an eyebrow at the IIED article.  See the post (and subsequent debate) on the Agricultural Biodiversity Weblog from earlier this month.  It picks up on the subject of genetic use restriction technologies (GURTs).  It’s a good read!

Thanks to Kalpana Sastry, Principal Scientist at NAARM for sending the AllAfrica link.

IP case studies from four agricultural research institutions in developing countries

http://www.cas-ip.org/public/uploads/2009/04/compilation_of_4_working_papers_npi_2008.pdf

The National Partners Initiative (NPI) of CAS-IP has published this week a compilation of 4 working papers entitled: “Institutionalization of Intellectual Property Management: Case Studies from four Agricultural Research Institutions in Developing Countries”.  The full text can be viewed by clicking on the lead link above. These case studies aim to share country experiences from developing countries in the areas surrounding IP policy making, policy implementation and use of IPRs by researchers for leveraging more benefits to the stakeholders, people, institutions and countries. The results of the case studies have been prepared as four working papers. The working papers are on the following topics:

Intellectual Property Management Regime in the Indian National Agricultural Research Systems
(R. Kalpana Sastry, India)

This case study presents an overview of the changing environment for public research organizations in the Indian Agricultural Research System with respect to intellectual property management. In its commitment to cater to its broader societal objectives, the system has been challenged with growing sovereignty and restrictions on the sharing of germplasm, privatization of knowledge, and pressures to reduce demands on public finances through the commercialization of research products. Starting with a review of the relevant legal and policy documents to understand the background of the obligations at national and at the international level, followed by a brief review of the role and functions played by some statutory agencies in India, the implications for the National Agricultural Research System were studied. Against the realization of need for IP policy for the large system, the provisions and governance model of the new IP policy of the national agricultural organization like the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) was analyzed. Then the implementation of guidelines now in place for two constituent institutes Project Directorate of Poultry (PDP) and Directorate of Rice Research (DRR), animal- based and crop-based institutes respectively, were studied in detail from the IP policy perspective. The study highlights on the implementation of guidelines, structural adjustments in decision making activities in IP management at institutes and at understanding the specific issues of IP management relevant to the research mandate of these institutes.

Establishment of Plant Breeders’ Rights System in Tanzania: Achievements and Challenges
(Patrick Ngwediagi, Tanzania)

The study is on establishment of plant breeders’ rights system in Tanzania: achievements and challenges seeks to review appropriateness of the current plant breeders’ rights system in Tanzania and its contribution to an effective sui generis system, and attempts to formulate an appropriate model in line with the TRIPS Agreement. The results indicate a need for a benchmark review of process of activities to be useful towards the creation and operationalization of a sui generis system. The involvement of the stakeholders in this exercise in Tanzania proved to be very useful exercise and should be continued as many other developing countries develop models to suit the needs in their niche areas. The findings suggest a strong need of such actions to enable policy makers take prudent decisions while complying with the TRIPs agreement. Issues of benefit sharing and access to biological resources especially in PVP context need to evolve if the IP protection systems are to bring the needed changes for the stakeholders.

A Review of the Nigerian System of Intellectual Property
(Victor M. Ibigbami and Christopher U. Orji, Nigeria)

Nigeria is taking steps to comply with the new IP regime ushered in by the WTO TRIPS and supported by African Union (AU). The issues such as Plant Variety Protection (PVP) and patent for microorganisms are technological in nature and the country should exercise the sui generis option provided in the TRIPS agreement to develop suitable laws. It is necessary that such laws may have instruments to be able to be used beyond the country’s existing IP framework like through the aegis of AU Model Law. This study also points to the need to amend the National Crop Varieties and Livestock Breeds Registration and Release Committee Decree 33 of 1987 in Nigeria to provide space for Plant Variety Protection (PVP), Animal Breeders Rights, and Farmers’ Rights. The Committee is currently administered by the National Centre for Genetic Resources and Biotechnology (NACGRAB) in the Ministry of Science and Technology and institutional mechanism should be put in place. Analysis of two grants relating to biotechnological related inventions and consequent efforts for licensing the technology indicate the need for regulation of such inventions in terms of best practices methods. Providing strong legal mechanisms for biotechnological inventions through National Biotechnology Law may lead to institutionalizing the norms for biosafety through institutions like National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA). This will help regulate research on microorganisms in terms of IP creation, benefit sharing and on biopharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals which the patent law presently does not address. It is envisaged that such measures would lead to increased investment in technology development and the resulting products can better the lives of the people of Nigeria.

Establishing a Technology Transfer Office in an Academic Institution in a Developing Country: Experience of Moi University
(Antony S. Mbayaki, Kenya)

The study relates to the experience of Moi University (in Eldoret Kenya) on the establishment of the first technology transfer office in a university or public research institution in Kenya. This study indicates the efforts of the policy makers leading to the establishment of the office at the institutional level. Nuances in the process of establishment, the challenges that faced and continue to open up, the manner of countering and overcoming have been discussed. The success and the roadblocks during the process serve as vital lessons for several other organizations that are now in the process of establishing Technology Transfer Office (TTO) in academic institutions especially in Africa. The study indicates that the benefits accrued through such offices placed in institutions of higher learning are enormous. If technology transfer has to be disseminated to reach to end users in a climate of ‘win-win’ situation, it is necessary to institutionalize the technology transfer in all institutes. Since the provisions in law have to be actualized and enforced, TTOs will have a major role in overseeing that potential and actual through sound IP management reach all stakeholders.

Post written by Karine Malgrand     consultant to CAS-IP

How did you become an IP Practitioner? vol.3

http://www.cas-ip.org/?page_id=40
This is the third in my series of blog posts about NPI members.  This week’s post hears from Lu Xin, an Examiner from the Plant Variety Protection Division of the Ministry of Agriculture in China.  She talks about her work in China and her initial impressions about being part of the NPI. 

This was filmed during the January 2009 National Partners Initiative workshop in Mombasa.  Follow lead link for more info about the NPI. Filming and interview conducted by Dede Rohadi from CIFOR.

Evaluation of plant variety distinctive character – leave it to the specialists!

http://tinyurl.com/6hgmge
Thanks to Francesca Re Manning for today’s blog post.  She wrote:

“In Case T-187/06 Schroder v Community Plant Variety Office (CPVO) the Court of First Instance (CFI) of the European Communities held on Wednesday 19 November 2008 that the evaluation of the distinctive character of a plant variety is not a subject for judicial review but one of such a technical nature that only specialist in the field should be responsible for. “

The full decision can be found buy visiting the lead link.