New Zealand Law Society - Plant Variety Rights second stage consultation begins

Plant Variety Rights second stage consultation begins

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The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has opened public consultation on an Options Paper for reforming New Zealand’s plant variety rights (PVR) law under the Plant Variety Rights Act 1987.

Consultation is open for 2 months, closing at 5pm on Monday, 9 September 2019. MBIE will also be holding a two day hui in Wellington on 5 – 6 August.

The PVR regime incentivises innovation in the development of new plant varieties – such as disease resistant crops and new varieties of fruit – by providing intellectual property rights over them.

MBIE is now seeking public submissions on proposed options for changing the PVR regime. This next step in public consultation follows on from the release of an Issues Paper last year.

“We’d like to thank everyone who participated at the Issues stage. The feedback we received then has informed the development of this Options Paper, and we’re looking forward to getting more great feedback on the proposed options,” says MBIE Manager of Intellectual Property Policy, Bryce Wigodsky.

“In developing these options it has been important to strike the right balance between incentives for breeders to continue creating new varieties, and others to continue benefiting from them.”

Along with modernising the PVR Act, a central focus of the review has been designing a regime that is consistent with the Crown’s Treaty of Waitangi obligations.

In its Wai 262 report, Ko Aotearoa Tēnei, the Waitangi Tribunal discussed, among other issues, these obligations in relation to taonga species (native birds, plants and animals of special cultural significance and importance to Māori).

“In its recommendations on the PVR regime, the Tribunal emphasised the importance of protecting kaitiaki interests in taonga species, and the Options Paper reflects this,” Mr Wigodsky says.

New Zealand also has obligations under the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) to meet international standards for plant variety rights protection. The new regime must be in place by December 2021.