History of PBR in Australia

The rights of plant breeders in Australia have been legally protected since 1987. Australia's plant breeder's rights legislation is aligned with international protection of new plant varieties.

The Plant Breeder's Rights scheme was first established under the Plant Variety Rights Act 1987 (PVR Act). At this time Plant Breeder's Rights were administered by the Rural Policy and Innovation Division of the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

Since 2004 we have been administering the Plant Breeder's Rights scheme. Legal protection through PBR has resulted in more innovation in industry as people and organisations know their investment in research will be protected.

Our case studies section gives examples of plant breeder's rights cases.

Revision of the legislation

To conform with changes in the 1978 and 1991 revision of the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (the UPOV Convention), the Parliament of Australia passed new legislation, the Plant Breeder's Rights Act 1994.

The changes relate to essentially derived varieties, derived varieties, farm-saved seed, alternative dispute resolution, timing of fee payment, prior sale limitation and harvested material/products made from the harvested material and duration of protection.

The principal changes were:

  • In tree and grapevine (Vitis vinifera) varieties, PBR continues for 25 years from the date of granting, and in all other varieties, for 20 years from the date of granting.
  • Sale in Australia, with the breeder's consent, is permitted for up to one year prior to applying for PBR.
  • Sale overseas, with the breeder's consent, is permitted in tree and grapevine (Vitis vinifera) varieties for up to six years and in all other varieties for up to four years prior to applying for PBR.
  • Farm-saved seed is allowed, unless the crop is one declared by regulation to be one to which farm-saved seed does not apply.
  • Intentional infringement of a plant breeder's rights attracts a penalty of $85 000 for individuals. The penalty for corporations is potentially five times greater.
  • The concept of the essentially derived variety (EDV) was introduced. A breeder who believes such a situation has occurred is able to apply with us to have the second variety declared an essentially derived variety.
  • Transgenic plants, algae and fungi can be protected.
  • Plant variety rights granted under the old Act are treated as if they had been granted as PBR.

Last Updated: 24/9/2014

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