Plant breeder’s rights reform

It is an important time for plant breeder’s rights (PBR) in Australia.

We have set up a dedicated program to explore Australia’s plant breeding ecosystem and the role of PBR. We are doing research to understand the current landscape, challenges, and opportunities. From this, we will make recommendations for future improvements. This page is a place to stay informed and get involved.

Our focus on the future of PBR

New plant varieties can greatly benefit the economy and society as a whole. The Australian PBR system exists to encourage new plant varieties being developed.

Technologies and industries connected with plant breeding continue to advance and evolve. However PBR legislation has largely remained the same since it was introduced in 1994.

Almond breeding case study - University of Adelaide

Wheat breeding case study - Australian Grain Technologies

Director General’s Australasian Plant Breeding Conference speech

Research

Through our research, we want to be sure PBR is:

fit for purpose
supporting plant breeding industries
connected with the government's priorities relating to agriculture and growth.

We are focused on the current and future needs of Australian agriculture, which includes all industries where PBR is relevant and plays a role in. This includes diverse horticulture, nursery products and emerging rural industries.

Our recent interview and economic research have provided us with valuable insights into today’s plant breeding ecosystem and how PBR is used.

Four key themes have emerged which we are reviewing and exploring. These themes are:

  • The role and experiences of Qualified Persons in the PBR system, and opportunities to better align the examination process with what the industry needs

  • aspects of the PBR legislation which could be modernised or clarified

  • how we can take a targeted approach to public education and awareness, helping to connect people and businesses with the information they need so that they are empowered to make informed decisions about PBR

  • the need for further economic data, to increase awareness on the impact PBR has on the incentive for individuals to invest in and commercialise new plant varieties.

These key themes sit alongside other improvements being progressed for PBR. Current improvements underway include issues already captured on IP Australia’s Policy Register and our ongoing work to uplift and modernise aspects of our services, IT systems, processes, and information.

Further to this, we are looking at how to best support the protection of Indigenous Knowledge in and alongside the PBR system.

Between October 2021 and early January 2022 70 interviews were held.

Most people we interviewed either breed new plant varieties or are part of the supply chain which introduces new varieties in Australia. In these categories, approximately 70% had applied for or owned at least one PBR.

Industries which were involved included:

  • broadacre crops
  • nurseries
  • cut flowers
  • cultivated turf
  • fruit
  • nuts
  • vegetables
  • other emerging industries.

In parallel the team had another 30 targeted conversations with people and organisations who had different connections and perspectives of PBR and plant breeding.

Interviews were held virtually or via phone due to COVID-19 limitations and were semi-structured to ensure free-flowing, open conversations.

We have committed to the privacy of those involved, and so interview participants will remain de-identified.

The wide variety of perspectives and concerns we heard in our interviews and conversations have been summarised in our insights report on the Plant Breeder’s Rights Ecosystem in 2021/2022.

We have partnered with Swinburne University’s Centre for Transformative Innovation to undertake economic research.

PBR plays a valuable role in the Australian economy. We recognise that the number of applications filed each year is only a small part of this story.

To enable this research, we have:

Our goal is to better understand the users of Australia's Plant Breeder’s Rights system and the economic impact of PBR. The findings of this initial research are presented in Swinburne’s report on the Economic Impact of Plant Breeder’s Rights in Australia.

Later in 2022 we will be conducting a survey to further explore the role PBR plays in breeding and commercialising new plant varieties in Australia.

Global landscape

Our research is particularly focused on Australian industries and the Australian economy. However our place in the global landscape is also critically important for PBR.

Australia is a member of the 1991 International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV treaty). Australia is committed to maintaining a system of plant variety protection with the features agreed in the UPOV treaty.

Issues relating to importing and exporting plant varieties and products are also front of mind in our review. These are very important when considering any future directions or impacts.

Connect with us

If you would like to find out more information or participate in our research, please contact our PBR reform program team.

Learn more about

Plant breeder’s rights at IP Australia

Plant breeder’s rights in the 2022 IP Report

Advisory Council on Intellectual Property’s Review of Enforcement of PBR

Plant breeder’s rights and IP Australia’s Indigenous Knowledge project

Plant breeder’s rights issues on IP Australia’s Policy Register