Plant Variety Protection (PVP) Advisory Board UpdateMay 5, 2020

I was honored to have attended the Plant Variety Protection (PVP) Advisory Board meeting last week. I continue to remain very impressed with the great work the PVP office is doing to implement the vast policy changes of the 2018 Farm Bill. In brief, the bill authorized the extension of United States PVP protection to asexually reproduced plants. This continues to align the US system with other countries who have long offered this protection, and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been in close contact with many of the countries to learn the best procedure for deposit, standards to determine distinctness, etc. It was originally thought the PVP protections would be redundant with the United States Plant Patent Statute but there are some key differences, such as coverage to “essentially derived” varieties in the PVP statute. The 2018 Farm bill also provided for the availability of PVP certificates for hemp.

The Office has hired two new Examiners to deal with additional filings and has currently upgraded their ePVP filing system. The document will now be saved if you have to come back later to finish! They are currently researching depositories for the lyophilized tissue. As you may recall, all tissue deposits and seed deposits for hemp have currently been delayed for 3 years to allow them time to partner with a depository. They are also investigating the possibility of offering a depository that does not provide lyophilization services. This will greatly reduce costs for places such as Universities that may have access to their own labs for tissue preparation. The USDA is also continuing to lead the proposal for use of markers to establish distinctness in soybean and recently completed a lettuce initiative with the Netherlands for a coordinated set of traits for distinctness.

On an interesting note, they have seen an uptick in filings since the pandemic.

Finally they indicated their desire to establish a system of cooperation with other countries to allow for DUS (distinct, uniform and stable) trials in the US that could be used to support International Plant Breeder’s Rights. This is really exciting for any who have had to gone through the painstaking process of growth trials in foreign jurisdictions. I agreed to be a part of this team to help facilitate the program. The USDA continues to manage the massive changes and to support United States Breeders with a healthy and viable International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) certificate system.

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