Community Plant Variety Office
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The Community Plant Variety Office (CPVO) is an agency of the European Union, located in Angers, France. It was established in 1994. Its task is to administer a system of plant variety rights, also known as plant breeders' rights, a form of intellectual property right relating to plants.
The CPVO manages the largest system of plant variety rights in the World. Since the creation of the CPVO in 1995 the office has received over 53,000 applications, with over 41,000 titles currently in force.
Community Plant Variety Right
Plant variety rights allow plant breeders to protect new varieties (or types of plants).
Based in Angers, France the CPVO was created by the Council Regulation 2100/94 and has been operational since the 27 April 1995.
The CPVO is entirely self-financed. It neither takes from nor contributes to the EU budget. The CPVO’s budget is principally derived from PVR application fees paid by breeders who wish to protect their creations.
PVR and food security
The CPVO was created to encourage the creation of new plant varieties in the European Union, through the provision of better intellectual property protection for plant breeders.
The PVR protection provided by the CPVO offers breeders the potential to have a return on their investment. PVR also incentivizes investment in the creation of new, more productive varieties – something which is of crucial importance in securing food security for the growing World population.
The PVR offered by the CPVO is valid across the EU for a period of 25 to 30 years.
The Plant Variety Right
A plant variety right, gives the holder of this right an exclusive right to market the protected variety in the European Union.
The Breeders’ Exemption
The Breeders’ Exemption ensures that anyone is allowed to use protected (PVR) varieties as a basis for the creation of new varieties.
The Breeders’ Exemption exists to ensure that PVR and the need to reward breeders for their work is balanced with the need for new & better varieties to reach & benefit the consumer as quickly as possible.
It also ensures the continued production of new varieties as breeders need access to as much genetic resources as possible, including protected varieties, in order to create new varieties.
The application procedure
One of the primary reasons for the creation of the CPVO was to streamline PVR applications. Previously, applicants who wished to secure EU wide protection were required to apply separately to each EU Member State, for such protection. The CPVO system of PVR protection means that only one application need be made (directly to the CPVO) in order to attain EU wide protection.
Concretely, this means that applications need only submit one application, which can be in the EU language of their choice (not 28 national applications). Meaning that the candidate variety need only undergo one procedure in order to be granted or refused the right requested.
This saves applicants’ time, money and resources and allows them to remain focused on the creation of new plants.
The CPVO prides itself on its customer service. The CPVO provides advice and assistance to breeders throughout their application procedure.
As part of the application procedure, each candidate variety is tested by an examination office. The examination offices are based in the member states, where they are operated by national experts. The examination offices determine whether the variety is distinct, uniform and stable – this is called a DUS test. The CPVO does not own any technical infrastructure.
The results of the DUS tests are used by the CPVO when taking the decision to grant or refuse a PVR application.
Organisation of the CPVO
The President of the CPVO is Martin Ekvad. Mr. Ekvad was appointed to this position in 2011. Prior to his appointment, Mr. Ekvad held the position of Head of the Legal Unit of the CPVO from 2003 to 2011.
The President of the CPVO is appointed by the Council of the European Union. The President is responsible for the overall functioning of the CPVO – this includes the implementation of the CPVO’s legislative duties and all operational aspects of the CPVO.
The CPVO is supervised by the Administrative Council (AC) of the CPVO. The AC is made up of representatives from across the 28 member states, representatives from the European Commission and observer organisations.
The AC is the budgetary authority of the CPVO. An example of the many responsibilities of the AC are the adoption of the annual work programme, the annual budget and the entrustment of the examination offices.