Last updated: 
30 September 2020

Will IP Australia continue to perform plant breeder's rights (PBR) examination services during the pandemic?

IP Australia is here to help customers through this uncertain time and remains open for business. IP Australia has adopted flexible working arrangements to ensure all aspects of our in-office PBR services will continue to operate for customers.

Until further notice, PBR examiners will not be visiting field trials to undertake on-site examinations. Qualified persons currently managing or establishing field trials that may be ready for examination in 2020 should contact the PBR office to discuss possible alternative options.

Throughout the pandemic, you can find information about the status of our PBR examination services on our website.

You can also reach us through our contact centre for any specific query, or if you need any help with your application via:

  • IP Australia Online Services available 24x7
  • Phone: 1300 651 010 (9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday) Canberra time
  • International: +61 2 6283 2999

FAQs

Can I get a free extension of time due to COVID-19?

Yes, the Registrar has the discretion to allow further time for some actions at no cost to the applicant. IP Australia will be providing impacted customers with extra time for the PBR actions we are able to under the legislation. Please contact the PBR examiner or email the PBR office if you have concerns about timeframes.

Extra time will be available for:

  • Providing a detailed description of the plant variety
  • Period for the grantee to establish a variety be declared an essentially derived variety
  • Providing an answer to an objection to an application for PBR
  • Period to submit evidence in objection proceedings.

Other actions may have their deadlines extended, but would have to be handled administratively on a case-by-case basis, so please contact us if you have any questions about your application. In some cases, further time cannot be provided, such as filing of an application within the allowable prior sale period.

Will I get further time to pay my renewal fee?

The normal process for paying PBR renewal fees will continue. However, IP Australia recognises that this is a difficult time and some customers may be experiencing financial difficulty as a result of COVID-19. If you are unable to pay a renewal fee contact the PBR office as early possible, and before the due date, to determine possible options.

Can I seek a refund or waiver of fees on my application?

IP Australia understands the unprecedented impact COVID-19 has had on businesses and people’s livelihood and we acknowledge that some customers will be under financial stress. Where a fee has been paid and an application is withdrawn or a grant surrendered before it becomes due for renewal then an automatic refund is provided for any services not already provided. PBR fees in general cannot be waivered.

Will I receive correspondence from the office given that my physical business is currently closed?

We understand that businesses may have been impacted due to COVID-19, and official correspondence from IP Australia may not reach you. All PBR invoices for fee payments are currently sent to a physical address. If your physical business is closed and you are unable to receive invoices then you should contact the PBR office and we will assist in finding an alternative solution.

Other, official PBR correspondence is sent electronically if you have an eServices account. If you have not already done so you may register through eServices to receive correspondence electronically - please contact us if you need assistance in this regard.

Will the current COVID-19 situation impact on the delivery of services within the timeframes specified in the Customer Service Charter?

We will continue to strive to prioritise our work to deliver our services within the Customer Service Charter timeframes. For most up to date information on our current domestic application processing times please visit our website.

Will I still be able to discuss reports and descriptions with someone from the PBR examination team?

Customers can continue to contact us to discuss PBR examination reports and variety descriptions. If we miss your call please leave a message or email the PBR Mailbox, we will endeavour to contact you within 24 hours or the next business day.

Will I still be able to submit a detailed description of my variety through the IVDS?

Qualified persons can continue to submit variety descriptions through the IVDS. As usual, if you have any difficulties contact the PBR examiner or email the PBR office, we will endeavour to contact you within 24 hours or the next business day.

Will there be any changes in the examination processes or assessment criteria?

Other than on-site field trial examinations, all aspects of our PBR examination services are currently unaffected by COVID-19, and PBR examination will continue to operate as normal for customers. Please refer to our PBR examiner’s manual online which sets out our current PBR examination practice and procedures.

Requirements for trial examinations will be dealt with on a case by case basis and may be conducted via video link, submission of plant samples and data to IP Australia or in extreme cases postponement of trials examinations. 

What if I am not able to lodge my applications/documents through eServices?

Our eServices portal is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In an event of an outage, we will have alternate lodgement services (ALS) available through the online portal. If you are experiencing difficulty lodging applications or documents, then please contact us and we will help you through the process.

Can I still lodge a written objection to a PBR application at this time?

All IP Australia services including lodgement objections continue to operate as normal. We also recognise that this is a fast-evolving situation and we encourage you to refer to our website for most current updates on our business operations.

I am currently involved in an objection process. Given the current COVID-19 situation, will the timeframes change?

We are mindful that is an unprecedented situation that may have an impact on the ability of applicants and their representatives to process matters within the prescribed timeframes.

The Registrar has discretion to allow further time for some actions at no cost to the applicant. IP Australia will be providing impacted customers with extra time for some PBR actions. Extra time would be available for:

  • Providing an answer to an objection to an application for PBR
  • Period to submit evidence in objection proceedings.

Please contact the PBR examiner or email the PBR office if you have concerns about timeframes.

Can I still submit my plant specimen to the Australian Cultivar Registration Authority (ACRA)?

The ACRA is now open for receiving plant specimens. PBR applicants and qualified persons of varieties originating from Australian native plants are required to submit a plant specimen to ACRA are requested to contact ACRA and follow their instructions for submission of specimens.