Trade secrets and other IP protection

Protecting plan varieties with Plant Breeders' Rights

Guide

Plant Breeders' Rights (PBR) are a form of intellectual property (IP) designed specifically to protect new varieties of plants.

To get these rights, your plant variety must be:

  • distinct - have different characteristics to other plants of the same species
  • uniform - all plants in the variety must share the same characteristics
  • stable - it remains unchanged after 'repeated propagation', eg reproduction from seeds, cuttings, bulbs or other plant parts

You can register your right in the UK or in the EU.

Plant variety rights in the UK

Plant varieties with registered rights in the EU before 1 January 2021 have been given a corresponding UK right. These plant varieties will have continued protection in the UK.

Change of details
If you want to change any details of your plant variety, contact pvs.helpdesk@apha.gov.uk with your request and EU grant number. The UK will continue to use the EU grant number for any correspondence.

Plant variety rights in the EU

There is no change in protection in the 27 EU Member States.

Varieties with EU rights granted before 31 December 2020 have been given a corresponding UK right from 1 January 2021. From this date, EU PBRs no longer apply in the UK.

If you've already applied for EU rights, but these were not granted before 1 January 2021, you must apply to the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) for protection in the UK using the UPOV PRISMA online application process.

For new varieties, you’ll need to apply separately in the UK and the EU. You must apply to the:

UK businesses can still hold and apply for EU plant variety rights from 1 January 2021, although you'll need an address or procedural representative in the EU.

Who can apply for PBR?

You can only apply for PBR if you've bred, discovered or developed a plant variety, or if you've been chosen by the breeder as their successor.

You can appoint an agent to manage the application process if they are authorised. They'll need to complete an authorisation of agent form. If the applicant or agent applying isn't based in the UK, you will need to appoint an authorised UK agent.

All applications for UK Plant Breeders Rights must use the UPOV PRISMA online application process. There are fees associated with applying for PBRs.

Application closing times
You can apply for PBR anytime. If you want to be included in a specific year’s test and trials, the application closing dates for agricultural and vegetable crops are the same as the closing dates for National Listing. Find details on the PBR application closing dates.

How rights can protect your plant varieties

Your rights mean that nobody can use your plant species, without your permission, for:

  • production or reproduction
  • selling or offering for sale
  • altering so it can be propagated
  • exporting or importing
  • keep stock of your plant species for any reason

Your rights last for 25 years (or 30 years for trees, vines or potato varieties).

To apply for the rights, you must name your variety. The same name will usually be used in the UK and all EU member states if the variety is accepted. You can give up your rights at any time and rights may be terminated if the variety no longer fulfils its criteria.

You must add new plant varieties to the UK's national lists if you want to market them. Check if your plant variety needs to be registered on GB and NI variety lists.