Plant Breeders’ Rights in South Africa

Plant Breeders’ Rights are governed by the Plant Breeders’ Rights Act No. 15 of 1976 and entail protection of new plant varieties bred by conventional or genetically modified means that don’t fall within Patent protection. For a plant variety to qualify for Plant Breeders’ Rights it must be new, unique, stable and uniform. With new it means that the variety may not have been sold or exploited in the RSA for more than a year and in one of the International Convention member states six years in terms of vines or trees and for other varieties a maximum of four years before the priority filing date.

With unique or distinct the variety must be easily identifiable from other varieties of the same kind of plant of which people commonly know. Stability is another requirement and refers to the fact that the variety must stay unchanged after each cycle of propagation. Uniformity refers to the requirement of having specific characteristics in common. The breeder of the variety must apply for Plant Breeders’ Rights and is the person who did the breeding or developed the variety. One who has discovered the variety can also be classified as the breeder. Only South Africa residents can apply for the plant breeding rights.

The National Department of Agriculture does certain assessments to determine the novelty, uniformity, stability and distinctiveness of the variety. Due to the nature of plants and time it takes to grow to maturity one can understand that the application can take years to be completed. Specific supporting documents must accompany the application including the proof of right to apply, colored images of the variety, and a completed technical questionnaire for the variety of plant.

View our range of services and contact us today to help you apply for Plant Breeders’ Rights in South Africa for a specific variety of plants.

Requirements for Plant Breed Patents

To be granted plant breeders’ rights, plant varieties must be new, distinct, uniform, stable and have an acceptable denomination. A variety is considered:

  • NEW if the propagating material
    • of a variety has not been sold in South Africa for longer than one year.
    • of a variety of a tree or of a vine has not been commercialised in another country for more than six years, or in the case of any other plant for more than four years.
  • DISTINCT if it is clearly distinguishable from any other variety of the same species.
  • STABLE if the plants of the particular variety still look like the original plants after repeated cultivation.
  • UNIFORM if the plants of a variety look similar and are sufficiently uniform in relevant characteristics.

 

More information regarding Patents

Patents – In simple terms, a South African patent may be granted for an invention that is: New, Inventive and Useful. If your invention meets these three requirements, generally, subject to certain exclusions detailed below…

Biotech Patents – Research and development in the life sciences is extremely costly and time-consuming. The pharmaceutical industry provides a good example of the time-scales and funding one needs in order to bring…

International Patent Protection – It is important to note that patents are territorial rights – a patent granted in South Africa can be enforced in South Africa only. However, you may, within 12 months…

Software Patents – Historically, software has been protected primarily through the provisions in the South African Copyright Act. Examples of subject matter for copyright protection of computer programs and mobile apps are…

Requirements for Patent Application – We need a full, detailed technical description of the invention in order to draft a patent specification. If you have a prototype or drawings of your invention…

Plant and Animal Sciences – According to the patent laws of several countries, one cannot obtain biotechnological patent protection for plant or animal varieties, or essentially biological processes for the production of plants or animals…

Patent Search – It is very important for applicants to do a patent search for similar inventions before applying for protection. A Patent Search will indicate whether your idea or inventions has been patented before. Although novelty can never be determined…

Patent Requirements – Although novelty can never be determined conclusively, an indication of the novelty of your invention may be found by conducting patent and literature searches. South Africa has a so-called…

Patent Costs – A novelty search is conducted prior to filing a Provisional Patent Application to identify potentially novel and/or inventive aspects of an invention in light of what already exists (i.e. the prior art)…

Patent Exclusions –  Anything which consists of a discovery; a scientific theory; a mathematical method; a literary; dramatic, musical or artistic work; or any aesthetic creation; a scheme, rule, or method for performing a mental act…

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