Naming a new plant variety

A new plant variety must have a suitable name. Proposing a new and original name for a plant variety is not an easy task. It can be frustrating if your chosen name is not available. There are some simple rules to help you:

PBR Act - protection and compliance

Under the Plant Breeder's Rights Act 1994 (PBR Act), both the name (officially called the denomination) and synonym of a plant variety are protected. A synonym is an additional name that the applicant can use to commercialise the variety in Australia.

Acceptable variety names and synonyms must comply with the PBR Act (section 27) and the International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants 2009.

The name (including a synonym in respect of the variety) must be a word or words, and can be an invented word. The name can have the addition of:

  • a letter or letters that do not constitute a word
  • a figure or figures (numbers).

It may contain simply a letter or letters, numbers or combination of letters and numbers. Some special characters such as a hyphen may be used.

Seek advice

If you are unsure about your proposed variety name, consider seeking advice from a qualified person (QP) to check the acceptability of the name before filing your application.

Temporary names

If you are undecided about naming the variety at the time of the application, you can provide a temporary code name usually known as a breeder's code. You may change the code name at any time before the final granting of plant breeder's rights (PBR) by proposing a new name.

Applications to change a granted variety's name after granting of PBR are only accepted in very limited circumstances:

  • to correct an obvious mistake
  • where the name breaches legislation.

Don't use a name until it is accepted

You are strongly advised to wait until your proposed name has been accepted before having product labels and promotional materials printed. It is advisable to follow the industry labelling guidelines.

Naming rules

Inventiveness

Make sure your proposed name is unique and it can't be confused, either in spelling or pronunciation, with the name of another variety.

Banned words

Certain words (or their equivalents in any language) are banned words and they cannot be used in the name (including their plural forms). These are:

  • cross
  • hybrid
  • grex
  • group
  • form
  • maintenance
  • mutant
  • seedling
  • selection
  • sport
  • strain
  • variety
  • improved
  • transformed.

Length

The name should not have more than 10 syllables and 30 characters (excluding spaces and single quotation marks).

Genus and common name

If your name is a single word, make sure that the word is not the same as that of a genus, whether in botanical Latin or in a modern language.

Erica, Daphne, Iris and Veronica happen to be Latin names of genera and are not permitted as cultivar names, even though they are personal names as well. Similarly, Rose and Violet are common names of the genera and they too are not permitted.

Such words may be used in a name of two or more words, but not as the final word of the name. So 'Erica Smith', 'Iris Jones' and 'Rose Queen' are acceptable names but 'Queen Rose' is not acceptable.

The variety name should not contain the botanical or common name of its genus or the common name of any species in that genus. So names like 'Rosa Christmas Rose', 'Potato Jim's Spud' and 'Primula White Cowslip' are not acceptable.

Merit

The name should not exaggerate the merits of the cultivar. Names like 'Best Ever', 'The Greatest' and 'Tastiest of All' are not acceptable.

It should not be made up of simple descriptive words only, like 'Red', 'Giant White' or 'Small'.

Name of a person or organisation

When the proposed name is the name of a living person, written consent will be required from that person.

If the name is that of a person who died less than 10 years before the application is filed, written consent will be required from the legal representative of that person.

If the name is the name of a corporation or other organisation, written consent will be required from that organisation.

Punctuation

The only punctuation marks allowed are: apostrophe, comma, hyphen, full-stop and a single exclamation mark.

UPOV name

If an application for plant protection has previously been filed overseas, the name (denomination) used in the first filing in a UPOV member country should be the official registered name in Australia. This aims to have the variety known by the same name worldwide.

An exception can be made if the name:

  •  is already in common use in Australia within the same denomination class
  •  is a trade mark in Australia in respect of live plants, plant cells and plant tissues.

If you intend to market the variety under another commercial name (a name that is not the UPOV name) it is useful to consider including that name as the synonym in the Australian application.

More information

Last updated: 
16 June 2016