[Note: This is a legislative bill and is not promulgated. We will provide further information after promulgation of the act.]
1. Outline of the registration of plant varieties for the protection of new plant varieties
The Plant Variety Protection and Seed Act stipulates the registration of plant varieties for the protection of new plant varieties.
Under the Plant Variety Registration System, a person who has bred a new variety of plant (breeder) is granted exclusive rights in order to recover the expenses incurred by the breeder by breeding the variety, thereby raising motivation to breed new varieties of plants and promoting the development of agriculture, forestry, and fisheries.
2. Background of the revision of the Plant Variety Protection and Seed Act
In recent years, some high-quality Japanese plant varieties were taken overseas without authorization, their production was increased, and they have been exported to third-party countries. In addition, it was difficult for breeders to prove that the breeder’s right was infringed by a third party. Therefore, the rights have been reviewed to make it easier to protect the breeder’s right.
3. Main points of the revisions
(1) Measures to establish use conditions according to the intention of holder of the breeder’s right in order to take legal actions against infringements of rights etc.
Regarding registered varieties, the holder of the breeder’s right will be able to set the use conditions (for example, “domestic use only” and “domestic cultivation area only”) at the time of application. If a third party violates the conditions of use, ① taking the product overseas or ② cultivating it outside the designated area in Japan, such acts consists of a violation of the breeder’s right.
The specific restrictions on export and cultivation areas are published on the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries website. Also, the revised Act is to require to display ① the fact that it is a registered variety and ② the fact that it is subject to restrictions on the registered variety itself.
(2) Self-propagation under license
Prior to the revision, the approval of the holder of the breeder’s right was not required in order for farmers to use part of the harvested material of the registered variety as seeds and seedlings of the said registered variety for the production of the next harvested material. However, the revision of the law stipulates that if farmers would like to use part of the harvested material of the registered variety as seeds and seedlings of the said registered variety for the production of the next harvested material, they need to obtain the approval of the breeder’s right holder.
(3) Revision regarding characterization table
In order to reduce the burden of proof in the event of infringement of the breeder’s right by a third party, it will be established whereby the characteristics of both varieties can be presumed to be identical by comparing the characteristics (characterization table) entered in the variety register with the characteristics of the infringed variety.
In addition, the breeder can amend the characterization table of the registration of plant varieties. Further, the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries can determine whether or not the breeder’s right has been infringed by a third party’s plant so that the breeder can use such determination as evidence to be submitted in court.
The date of enforcement (tentative) is basically effective on April 1, 2021. However, as the date of enforcement is phased by regulations, please refer to the materials on the website of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries below.
Written by Reiko Tonomura
Kei Iida, Supervisor