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Protection of New Plant Varieties in Nigeria – Rofiat Popoola

Protection of New Plant Varieties

Protection of New Plant Varieties in Nigeria

In order to fully understand the protection of plant varieties, it is expedient to explore the nature of new plant varieties and the concept of plant breeders’ rights. Generally, new plant varieties refer to novel group of plants, selected from within a species, with a common set of characteristics. It describes plants that have been developed through selective breeding, genetic modification, or other biotechnological methods. These new plant varieties can have different traits than the parent plants, such as increased yield, pest resistance, or disease resistance.

Assertively, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) defines new plant variety as that which is distinct, uniform, and stable, and that has been created or developed from genetic material of one or more parent varieties by any means of genetic modification (such as crossing, selection, or mutation), and has been granted plant variety protection or certification under national or regional legislation.

New plant varieties are protected by Plant Breeders rights. Plant Breeders’ Rights are a form of intellectual property that seeks to ensure the promotion of increased staple crop productivity for smallholder farmers involved in innovative plant production.

In addition, intellectual property (IP) according to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce. In other words, new plant variety is indirectly a form of intellectual property. Indirectly in the sense that, it is protected under the Plant Breeders’ Right (PBR) which is a form of intellectual property. The protection of intellectual property are manifested in line with the established laws and customs of a state with indefatigable respect to international laws and customs such as the World Intellectual Property laws (WIPO).

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Plant Breeders’ Rights (PBRs) are used to protect new varieties of plants that are novel, distinguishable, uniform, and stable. A PBR is legally enforceable and gives the owner, exclusive rights to commercially use it, sell it, direct the production, sale, and distribution of it, and receive royalties from the sale of plants. Therefore, the next question that arises in this article will be answered subsequently in the following.

Are New Plant Varieties Protected in Nigeria?

The importance of plant varieties to food security and protection cannot be overemphasized. They ensure that produced foods are safe, healthy and good for consumption. The first legislation regulating the development of new plant varieties and protecting plant breeders right in Nigeria is the Plant Varieties Protection Act (PVP) 2021.

This legislation regulates new plant varieties, inter alia. It grants exclusive intellectual property rights to plant breeders over new plant varieties (Plant Breeders Rights). It was enacted for the promotion of the marketing of new varieties in such a way that allows breeders to earn back the considerable costs involved in the long process of variety development.

However, there are certain requirements to be satisfied before new plant varieties are protected in Nigeria under the PVP 2021 in line with the UPOV requirements. The requirements for protection are the usual UPOV that is, the International Union for the Protection of New Plant Varieties, requirements which stipulates that it must be – new, distinct, uniform and stable. It must be new in the sense that the harvested material of the variety has not been disposed of with the breeder’s consent in Nigeria earlier than one year before the date of filing, or four years elsewhere (six years in the case of a tree or vine).

Similarly, it must be distinctive and distinguishable from other varieties in existence prior. Uniformity in its relevant characteristics and additionally, it must maintain stability in its relevant characteristics to remain unchanged after repeated propagation or, in the case of a particular cycle of propagation, at the end of each such cycle. Conclusively, UPOV provides a system that enables plant breeders to protect their innovations and obtain a return on their investment in developing varieties that meet the needs of farmers and consumers. It is pertinent to observe that the right granted by the PVP 2023 lasts for 20 years from the date of grant, except in the case of trees and vines where it is 25 years from date of grant.

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Conclusion

The protection of new plant varieties in Nigeria is an important aspect of intellectual property law, and the enactment of the PVPA provides a system of registration and certification for new plant varieties and protection of plant Breeders’ rights. Categorically, new plant varieties are distinct from other forms of intellectual property, like the copyright, trademark and patents. Additionally, it is important to understand the different types of intellectual property and how they work together to protect the rights of creators and innovators.

References

  • “Nigeria’s plant variety protection: in line with international IP norms | Managing Intellectual Property”
  • https://www.managingip.com/article/2a5d034hr8td8p0rej669/nigerias-plant-variety-protection-in-line-with-international-ip-norms
  • “The Plants Varieties Protection Act 2021 — Opinion — The Guardian Nigeria News – Nigeria and World News” https://guardian.ng/opinion/the-plants-varieties-protection-act-2021/amp
  • “Intellectual property rights in plant varieties” https://www.fao.org/3/y5714e/y5714e03.htm
  • “Nigeria’s plant variety protection: in line with international IP norms | Managing Intellectual Property”
  • https://www.managingip.com/article/2a5d034hr8td8p0rej669/nigerias-plant-variety-protection-in-line-with-international-ip-norms
  • “What is Intellectual Property?” https://www.wipo.int/about-ip/en/
  • “Nigeria: Plant Variety Protection Act, 2021 – Flora IP” https://www.floraip.com/2022/02/04/nigeria-plant-variety-protection-act-2021/

About Author

Rofiat Popoola is a second year law student at the prestigious University of Ilorin, Nigeria. She is a passionate writer, researcher and volunteer who prides in writing on contemporary issues affecting her country as a whole. She joined LawGlobal Hub in January, 2023.

Rofiat Popoola

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