CPVO announces new cooperation with Japanese PVR authorities

The CPVO has announced that it has signed a memorandum with its Japanese counterpart to exchange examination reports for a limited range of new varieties. The CPVO press release can be read here (PDF document).

This could potentially save breeders money, as it may be possible to have DUS testing done in one or other country (if launch and application dates are scheduled to permit this), which may save the breeder money by removing the need to have duplicate DUS testing carried out.

PFE will continue to monitor the situation.

Advantages and disadvantages of a weak US Dollar

You may have noticed news stories (like this one on BBC News) about the weak US Dollar which has now reached its lowest level against Sterling since 1992 and is similarly weak against the euro. This provides both advantages and disadvantages to breeders of plant varieties, depending on where you are resident.

For European breeders, applications for US Plant Patent are now as cheap as they have been for more than a decade. If you have a plant that you are considering for protection in the US, now is a good time to apply. On the other hand, royalties earned in US Dollars convert poorly to Sterling or euro. It may be prudent to open a US Dollar account with your bank and hold revenues in Dollars until the exchange rate improves.

For American breeders, the reverse is true – royalties earned in the UK and the rest of Europe now seem to be very high. However, the Dollar has also fallen against the euro in the last year, so the cost of EU PVR applications appears to have risen from an American perspective (EU PVR fees with the CPVO must be paid in euro). Of course, one can not benefit from high EU royalties unless protection is in place, so American breeders must bite the bullet and pay for protection. However, canny timing of application dates can help to extend the time over which the fees must be paid in the hope that the Dollar will strengthen (particularly, it may be possible to delay paying DUS testing fees by up to twelve months by careful timing of the initial application) – PFE can advise on this on request.

Wider European issues

One area that PFE monitors is that of the broader economic and political climate in Europe. Of particular interest are matters relating to the expansion of the EU. In simple terms, expansion is welcome for breeders who have been granted EU PVR in their plants as these rights extend to new nations once they become full members of the Union. For example, from 1st January 2007, Bulgaria and Romania will be full members and it will be possible to enforce EU PVR in those countries, with the potential to issue meaningful licences there without the need to make local PVR applications.

The EU has just released a report which discusses issues surrounding candidate and potential candidate nations in the Balkans as well as Turkey. It would be helpful to extend EU PVR to these nations as they are not only potential new markets but also potentially a source of illegally produced plants. However, it is right that these nations should only be admitted to the Union when they have economic and legal structures in place that are to the same standards as found in established EU nations. Particular concerns include the strength of intellectual property laws and the ability of the judiciary to effectively enforce any existing laws.

The full European Commission reports can be found here. They are rather long, so if you are time-poor you might find the BBC News analysis of the reports to be useful. In general, it appears unlikely that any of these nations will be ready to join the Union in the short term, with Croatia likely to be the first but not before 2010.