Protection of Plant Varieties & Farmers' Rights Act, 2001

Questions & Answers

Ans. The Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers' Rights Act 2001 was enacted in India to protect the new plant varieties.The Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers' Rights Authority has been set up and is responsible to administer the Act. The office of the Registrar has started receiving applications for registration of twelve notified crops viz. rice, lentil, maize, green gram, kidney bean, black gram, chickpea, pearl millet, pigeon pea, sorghum, field pea, bread wheat. Under the TRIPS agreement it is obligatory on part of a Member to provide protection to new plant variety either through patent or an effective sui generis system or a combination of these two systems. India was therefore under an obligation to introduce a system for protecting new plant variety. India opted for sui generis system and enacted The Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers' Rights Act 2001.

Ans. The objectives of the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers' Rights Act are :

(i) to stimulate investments for research and development both in the public and the private sectors for the developments of new plant varieties by ensuring appropriate returns on such investments;

(ii) to facilitate the growth of the seed industry in the country through domestic and foreign investment which will ensure the availability of high quality seeds and planting material to Indian farmers; and

(iii) to recognize the role of farmers as cultivators and conservers and the contribution of traditional, rural and tribal communities to the country's agro biodiversity by rewarding them for their contribution through benefit sharing and protecting the traditional right of the farmers.

Ans. 1. A new variety if it conforms to the criteria of novelty, distinctiveness, uniformity and stability.

2. An extant variety if it conforms to criteria of distinctiveness, uniformity and stability.

An "Extant Variety" means a variety, which is" -

(i) notified under section 5 of the Seeds Act, 1966 (54 of 1966); or

(ii) a farmers' variety; or

(iii) a variety about which there is common knowledge; or

(iv) any other variety which is in the public domain.

Ans. A) Novelty - Plant variety is novel if at the date of filing of the application for registration for protection, the propagating or harvested material of such variety has not been sold or otherwise disposed of by or with the consent of breeder or his successor for the purpose of exploitation of such variety-

(i) in India earlier than one year or

(ii) outside India, in the case of trees or vines earlier than six years or in any other case, earlier than four years, before the date of filing such application :

Provided that a trial of a new variety which has not been sold otherwise disposed of shall not affect the right to protection.

Provided further that the fact that on the date of filing the application for registration, propagating or harvested material of such variety has become a matter of common knowledge other than through the aforesaid manner shall not affect the criteria of novelty for such variety.

B) Distinctiveness - New plant variety will be considered distinct if it is clearly distinguishable by at least one essential characteristic from any other variety whose existence is a matter of common knowledge in any country at the time of filing of the application.

C) Uniformity - New plant variety will pass uniformity test, if subject to the variation that may be expected from the particular features of its propagation, it is sufficiently uniform in its essential characteristics.

D) Stability - New plant variety will be considered stable if its essential characteristics remain unchanged after repeated propagation or, in the case of a particular cycle of propagation, at the end of each such cycle. Compulsory Plant Variety denomination : After satisfying the above four essential criteria every applicant shall assign a single and distinct denomination to a variety with respect to which he is seeking registration.

Ans. The farmers' rights as defined in the Act are :

(i) a farmer who has bred or developed a new variety shall be entitled for registration and other protection in like manner as a breeder of a variety under this Act;

(ii) the farmers' variety shall be entitled for registration if the application contains declaration as specified in clause (h) or sub-section (1) of section 18;

(iii) a farmer who is engaged in the conservation of genetic resources of land races and wild relatives of economic plants and their improvement through selection and preservation shall be entitled in the prescribed manner for recognition and reward from the Gene Fund. Provided that material so selected and preserved has been used as donors of genes in varieties registrable under this Act;

(iv) a farmer shall be deemed to be entitled to save, use, sow, resow, exchange, share or sell his farm produce including seed of a variety protected under this Act in the same manner as he was entitled before the coming into force of this Act.

Ans. A plant variety which is :-

(i) not capable of identifying such variety; or

(ii) consists solely of figures; or

(iii) is liable to mislead or to cause confusion concerning the characteristics, value, identify of such variety, or the identity of breeder of such variety;

(iv) is likely to deceive the public or cause confusion in the public regarding the identity of such variety;

(v) is comprised of nay matter likely to hurt the religious sentiments respectively of any class or section of the citizens of India;

(vi) is prohibited for use as a name or emblem for any of the purposes;

(vii) is comprised of solely or partly of geographical name.

Ans. (i) in the case of trees and vines, eighteen years from the date of registration of the variety;

(ii) in the case of extant varieties, fifteen years from the date of the notification of that variety by the Central Government under section 5 of the Seeds Act,1966

(iii) in the other cases, fifteen years from the date of registration of the variety.

Initially the certificate of registration shall be valid for nine years in the case of trees and vines and six years in the case of other crops and may be revived and renewed for the remaining period on payment of fees as may be fixed by the rules.