Q&A XII On protection of plant varieties

March 11, 2022

This concludes our second  Q&A series, where we answered 3-5 questions our clients most often had and shared it with you. 

We hope you enjoyed reading it as much as we did writing it.

>Q1: How are plant varieties protected?

In the jurisdictions we cover, plant varieties are protected before the local Ministries of Agriculture.

A plant variety can be protected by entering it in the Plant Variety Registry in order to commercialize the plant of interest, or through a granted plant breeder’s right, in order to develop an existing or create a new variety. 

The basic general conditions for granting a plant breeder’s right is that the variety is new, distinct, uniform and stable and that a technical examination (DUS-test) has been approved. The purpose of this examination is to ensure that the criteria of ‘D – distinctness’, ‘U – uniformity’ and ‘S – stability’ are fulfilled.

After filing all supporting documents (official petition, authorizing POA, information on the plant variety, proposed name, technical questionnaire according to UPOV, photographs of the plant variety, payment of the official fees), the Ministry of Agriculture examines the petition and orders the DUS test report from the institution chosen by the applicant.

Once the corresponding fees are paid, the Ministry issues the decision on granting the plant breeder’s right.

* In Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia and Albania, a plant variety right and a plant breeder’s right are separate procedures whereas in North Macedonia, both rights are included into one single procedure.

Additional notice: In Montenegro, protection of plant varieties will not be possible until they join the EU. 

In Bosnia & Herzegovina, all necessary rules and regulations exist, but are not yet implemented. 

In Kosovo, it is not possible to protect a specific plant variety, yet, joining EU should be the turning point.

Q2: What is the usual duration of a registered Plant Breeder’s Right?

In Croatia, North Macedonia, Slovenia and Albania, the duration of protection is 20 years, except for hops, grapevine and trees, where it is 25 years – on condition that the annual maintenance fees are timely paid.

In Serbia, the duration of protection is 25 years, except for hops, grapevine and trees, where it is 30 years – on condition that the annual maintenance fees are timely paid. 

Q3: Is the owner of the plant variety obliged to deliver seedlings to the country where they have a plant variety entered in the Plant Variety Registry?

Serbia and Slovenia: yes

North Macedonia: no

Croatia, Albania: depends on the plant variety

Q4: What happens if an annual maintenance fee for a Plant Breeder’s Right is not paid by the due date?

Generally, there is no grace period for late payment of the annual maintenance fees.

Only in Slovenia, the Ministry sets an additional 6 month timeframe for payment of these fees.

Should the maintenance fees not be paid in good time, the PBR would expire.

Additional notice: In Slovenia, the registration of a plant variety in the national Registry must be regularly renewed: for crops and vegetable every 10 years, and for fruit plants every 30 years.

Tips: Where applicable, it is always recommended to have both protections registered in order to cover the plant owner’s IP rights as well as the possibility to commercialize their plant variety in the country of interest.

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