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Intellectual Property

South Africa

Plant Breeders’ Rights in South Africa

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Plant Breeders’ Rights in South Africa 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 Protection 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 forPlant Breeders’ Rights in South Africa

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.

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