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Decision No. 345 Establishing the Common Regime on the Protection of the Rights of Breeders of New Plant Varieties

 Decision No. 345 of October 21, 1993 of the Commission of the Cartagena Agreement on the Common Regime for the Protection of Plant Breeders' Rights

Decision 345—Common Provisions on the Protection of the Rights of Breeders of New Plant Varieties*



Chapter I: Subject Matter and Scope.............................................. 1 - 2 Chapter II: Definitions .................................................................... 3 Chapter III: Recognition of Breeders’ Rights ................................... 4 - 15 Chapter IV: Registration................................................................... 16 - 21 Chapter V: Obligations and Rights of the Breeder .......................... 22 - 28 Chapter VI: Licensing....................................................................... 29 - 32 Chapter VII: Nullity and Cancellation ............................................... 33 - 36 Chapter VIII: Complementary Provisions ........................................... 37 - 39

Transitional Provisions ................................................. 1 - 3

Chapter I Subject Matter and Scope

1. The purpose of this Decision is:

(a) to recognize and ensure the protection of the rights of breeders of new plant varieties by the grant of breeders’ certificates;

(b) to promote research activities in the Andean area;

(c) to promote technology transfer activities within and outside the subregion.

2. The scope of this Decision shall encompass all botanical genera and species insofar as the growing, possession or use thereof are not prohibited for reasons of human, animal or plant health.

Chapter II Definitions

3. For the purposes of this Decision, the following definitions are adopted:

Competent national authority: Body appointed by each Member Country to apply the provisions on plant variety protection.

Live sample: A sample of the variety supplied by the applicant for a breeder’s certificate, which sample shall be used for the testing of novelty, distinctness, uniformity and stability.

Variety: Set of cultivated botanical individuals that are distinguished by specific morphological, physiological, cytological and chemical characteristics and can be perpetuated by reproduction, multiplication or propagation.

Essentially derived variety: A variety shall be deemed to be essentially derived from an initial variety when it originated therefrom or from a variety itself essentially derived from the initial variety and retains the expression of the essential characteristics that result from the genotype or combination of genotypes of the original variety, and which although distinguishable from the initial variety, nevertheless conforms to it in the expression of the

essential characteristics that result from the genotype or combination of genotypes of the initial variety, except with respect to differences resulting from the derivation process.

Material: Reproductive or vegetative multiplication material in any form; harvested material, including whole plants and parts of plants; any product made directly from harvested material.

Chapter III Recognition of Breeders’ Rights

4. The Member Countries shall grant breeders’ certificates to persons who have created plant varieties, insofar as the varieties are new, uniform, distinct and stable, and if they have been given a denomination that constitutes their generic designation.

For the purposes of this Decision, “created” shall be understood to denote the production of a new variety by the application of scientific skills to the genetic improvement of plants.

5. Without prejudice to the provisions of Article 37, the Government of each Member Country shall appoint its competent national authority and shall establish the functions thereof, and shall also establish the national procedure for the implementation of this Decision.

6. There shall be established in each Member Country a National Register of Protected Plant Varieties, in which all varieties conforming to the conditions laid down in this Decision shall be registered. The Board shall be responsible for keeping a subregional register of protected plant varieties.

7. To be entered in the Register referred to in the foregoing Article, varieties shall fulfill the conditions of novelty, distinctness, uniformity and stability and in addition shall have an appropriate generic denomination.

8. A variety shall be deemed to be new if reproductive or multiplication material or harvested material thereof has not been lawfully sold or disposed of to others in another manner by or with the consent of the breeder or his successor in title for purposes of commercial exploitation of the variety.

Novelty shall be lost where:

(a) exploitation has begun more than one year prior to the filing date of the application for the grant of a breeder’s certificate or the date of any priority claimed, if sale or disposal to others has taken place within the territory of any Member Country;

(b) exploitation has begun more than four years or, in the case of trees and grapevines, more than six years prior to the filing date of the application for the grant of a breeder’s certificate or the date of any priority claimed, if the sale or disposal to others has taken place in a territory other than that of any Member Country.

9. Novelty shall not be lost through sale or disposal of the variety to others, inter alia, when those acts:

(a) are the result of an abuse to the detriment of the breeder or his successor in title;

(b) form part of an agreement to transfer the rights in the variety, provided that the variety has not been physically disposed of to a third party;

(c) form part of an agreement under which a third party has, on behalf of the breeder, increased supplies of reproductive or multiplication material;

(d) form part of an agreement under which a third party has carried out field or laboratory tests or small-scale processing tests with a view to the evaluation of the variety;

(e) involve harvested material that has been obtained as a by-product or surplus product of the variety or from the activities mentioned in this Article under (c) and (d);

(f) are performed in any unlawful manner.

10. A variety shall be deemed to be distinct if it is clearly distinguishable from any other variety whose existence is a matter of common knowledge on the filing date of the application or the date of any priority claimed.

The filing in any country of an application for the grant of a breeder’s certificate or for the entry of the variety in an official register of cultivars shall make the said variety a matter of common knowledge as from that date, insofar as the act concerned leads to the grant of the certificate or the entry of the variety, as the case may be.

11. A variety shall be deemed to be uniform if it is sufficiently uniform in its essential characteristics, due account being taken of the variations that may be expected from the manner of its reproduction, multiplication or propagation.

12. A variety shall be deemed to be stable if its essential characteristics remain unchanged from generation to generation and at the end of each particular cycle of reproduction, multiplication or propagation.

13. Each Member Country shall ensure that no rights in the designation registered as the denomination of the variety hamper the free use thereof, even after the breeder’s certificate has expired.

The designation adopted may not be registered as a mark and shall be sufficiently distinctive in relation to other denominations registered previously.

Where one variety is the subject of applications for the grant of breeders’ certificates in two or more Member Countries, the same denomination shall be used in all cases.

14. The owners of breeders’ certificates may be natural persons or legal entities. The certificate shall belong to the breeder of the variety or the party to whom it has been lawfully transferred.

The breeder may claim his rights before the competent national authority if the certificate has been granted to a person not entitled thereto.

15. The State employer, whatever its form and nature, may transfer part of the profits from plant breeding to its breeder employees in order to stimulate research activity.

Chapter IV Registration

16. The application for the grant of a breeder’s certificate for a new variety shall comply with the conditions set forth in Article 7 and shall be accompanied by a detailed description of the relevant breeding process. In addition, should the competent national authority consider this necessary, the application shall likewise be accompanied by a live sample of the variety or the document evidencing the deposit thereof with the competent national authority of another Member Country.

The Member Countries shall regulate the manner in which samples are to be deposited, including, among other matters, the necessity and desirability of effecting such a deposit, the duration thereof and the replacement or supply of samples.

17. The breeder shall enjoy provisional protection during the period between the filing of the application and the grant of the certificate.

No action for damages may be brought until the breeder’s certificate has been granted, but such an action may cover damages caused by the defendant as from the publication of the application.

18. The owner of an application for the grant of a breeder’s certificate filed in a country that accords reciprocal treatment to the Member Country in which registration of the variety is being sought shall enjoy a right of priority for a period of 12 months for the purpose of seeking protection for the same variety in any of the other Member Countries. This period shall be calculated from the filing date of the first application.

In order to benefit from the right of priority, the breeder shall, in the subsequent application, claim the priority of the first application. The competent national authority of the Member Country in which the subsequent application has been filed may require the applicant to supply, within a period of not less than three months from the date of the said filing, a copy of the documents which constitute the first application, which copy shall be certified true by the authority with which that application was filed, and samples or other evidence that the variety which is the subject matter of both applications is the same.

19. The competent national authority of each Member Country shall issue a technical report on novelty, distinctness, uniformity and stability.

20. On the issue of a favorable technical report and after compliance with the prescribed procedure, the competent national authority shall grant the breeder’s certificate.

The grant of the certificate shall be notified to the Board of the Cartagena Agreement, which in turn shall bring it to the notice of the other Member Countries for the purposes of the recognition thereof.

21. The term of the breeder’s certificate shall be from 20 to 25 years in the case of vines, forest trees and fruit trees, including their rootstocks, and from 15 to 20 years for other species, calculated in both cases from the date of grant, as determined by the competent national authority.

Chapter V Obligations and Rights of the Breeder

22. The owner of a variety entered in the Register of Protected Plant Varieties shall be under the obligation to maintain it and reconstitute it as necessary throughout the term of the breeder’s certificate.

23. A breeder’s certificate shall give the owner thereof the right to bring administrative or judicial actions under his national legislation with a view to preventing or restraining any acts that constitute infringement or violation of his right, and securing the appropriate forms of compensation or indemnification.

24. The grant of a breeder’s certificate shall confer on the owner thereof the right to prevent third parties from engaging without his consent in the following acts in respect of reproductive, propagating or multiplication material of the protected variety:

(a) production, reproduction, multiplication or propagation;

(b) preparation for the purposes of reproduction, multiplication or propagation;

(c) offering for sale;

(d) sale or any other act that entails placing reproductive, propagating or multiplication material on the market for commercial purposes;

(e) exportation;

(f) importation;

(g) possession for any of the purposes mentioned in the foregoing subparagraphs;

(h) commercial use of ornamental plants or parts of plants as multiplication material for the production of ornamental and fruit plants, or parts thereof or cut flowers;

(i) the performance of the acts mentioned in the foregoing subparagraphs in respect of harvested material, including entire plants and parts of plants, obtained through the unauthorized use of reproductive or multiplication material of the protected variety, unless the owner has had reasonable opportunity to exercise his exclusive right in relation to the said reproductive or multiplication material.

The breeder’s certificate shall likewise entitle the owner thereof to exercise the rights specified in the foregoing subparagraphs in respect of varieties that are not clearly distinguishable from the protected variety, within the meaning of Article 10 of this Decision, and in respect of varieties whose production calls for repeated use of the protected variety.

The competent national authority may confer on the owner the right to prevent third parties from engaging, without his consent, in the acts specified in the foregoing subparagraphs in respect of varieties essentially derived from the protected variety, except where the latter variety is itself an essentially derived variety.

25. The breeder’s certificate shall not confer on the owner thereof the right to prevent third parties from using the protected variety where such use is made:

(a) in a private circle, for non-commercial purposes;

(b) for experimental purposes;

(c) for the breeding and exploitation of a new variety, except in the case of a variety essentially derived from a protected variety. The said new variety may be registered in the name of the breeder thereof.

26. Anyone who stores and sows for his own use, or sells as a raw material or food, the product of his cultivation of the protected variety shall not be thereby infringing the breeder’s right. This Article shall not apply to the commercial use of multiplication, reproductive or propagating material, including whole plants and parts of plants of fruit, ornamental and forest species.

27. Breeders’ rights may not be invoked against the acts mentioned in Article 24 of this Decision where the material of the protected variety has been sold or otherwise marketed by the owner of the said right, or with his consent, except where those acts involve:

(a) further reproduction, multiplication or propagation of the protected variety, subject to the limitation specified in Article 30 of this Decision;

(b) exportation of the material of the protected variety, such as would permit reproduction thereof, to a country that does not grant protection to the varieties of the plant species to which the exported variety belongs, except where the said material is for human, animal or industrial consumption purposes.

28. Where necessary, the Member Countries may adopt measures for the regulation or control, on their territory, of the production or marketing, importation or exportation of

reproductive or multiplication material of a variety, provided that such measures do not imply disregard for the breeders’ rights recognized by this Decision, or hamper the exercise thereof.

Chapter VI Licensing

29. The owner of a breeder’s certificate may grant licenses for the exploitation of the variety.

30. With a view to ensuring adequate exploitation of the protected variety, in exceptional circumstances affecting national security or the public interest, national governments may declare the said variety freely available subject to equitable compensation of the breeder.

The competent national authority shall decide on the amount of compensation, after having heard the parties and taken expert advice, on the basis of the scale of exploitation of the variety so licensed.

31. During the period of validity of the declaration of free availability, the competent national authority shall allow exploitation of the variety by interested persons who offer sufficient technical guarantees and apply to it to that end.

32. The declaration of free availability shall remain in force for as long as the circumstances that brought it about continue to obtain and up to a maximum of two years, which period may be renewed once for the same amount of time, provided that the circumstances under which the declaration was made have not disappeared with the lapse of the first such period.

Chapter VII Nullity and Cancellation

33. The competent national authority shall, either ex officio or at the request of a party, declare the breeder’s certificate null and void when it is established that:

(a) the variety did not fulfill the requirements of novelty and distinctness when the certificate was granted;

(b) the variety did not fulfill the conditions laid down in Articles 11 and 12 of this Decision when the certificate was granted;

(c) the certificate has been granted to a person who has no right to it.

34. In order to keep the breeder’s certificate in force, the appropriate fees shall be paid in accordance with the provisions laid down in the domestic legislation of the Member Countries.

The owner shall be allowed a period of grace of six months following the expiration of the prescribed period within which to effect payment of the fee due, together with the appropriate surcharge. The breeder’s certificate shall remain fully valid throughout the period of grace.

35. The competent national authority shall declare the certificate canceled in the following cases:

(a) where it is established that the protected variety has ceased to meet the conditions of uniformity and stability;

(b) where the breeder does not provide the information, documents or material necessary for testing the maintenance or reconstitution of the variety;

(c) where the breeder does not, after the denomination of the variety has been rejected, propose another suitable denomination within the prescribed period;

(d) where payment of the fee has not taken place by the expiration of the period of grace.

36. Any nullity, lapse, cancellation, cessation or loss of breeders’ rights shall be notified to the Board, by the competent national authority, within 24 hours of the making of the corresponding pronouncement, which shall in addition be duly published in the Member Country, whereupon the variety shall become public property.

Chapter VIII Complementary Provisions

37. The Subregional Committee for the Protection of Plant Varieties, composed of two representatives of each of the Member Countries, is hereby created. The Board shall provide the Technical Secretariat of the Committee.

38. The Committee referred to in the foregoing Article shall have the following functions:

(a) to consider the compilation of an up-to-date inventory of the present biodiversity of the Andean subregion and, in particular, of the plant varieties susceptible of registration;

(b) to draw up guidelines for the standardization of procedures, examinations, laboratory tests and the deposit or growing of such samples as may be necessary for the registration of the variety;

(c) to devise technical criteria for distinctness in relation to the state of the art, with a view to determining the minimum number of characteristics that have to vary for one variety to be considered different from another;

(d) to analyze matters relating to the scope of protection of essentially derived varieties, and to propose common provisions thereon.

39. The recommendations of the Committee shall be submitted through the Board for consideration by the Commission.

Transitional Provisions

One. A variety that is not new on the date on which a Member Country’s Register is opened for the filing of applications may be registered, notwithstanding the provisions of Article 4 of this Decision, if the following conditions are met:

(a) the application is filed within the year following the opening date of the Register for the genus or species to which the variety belongs;

(b) the variety has been entered in a register of cultivars in any of the Member Countries, or in a register of protected varieties in any country having special legislation on the protection of plant varieties which grants reciprocal treatment to the Member Country in which the application is filed.

The term of the breeder’s certificate granted under this provision shall be proportional to the period already elapsed since the date of entry or registration in the country referred to in

subparagraph (b) above. Where the variety has been entered in two or more countries, the relevant entry or registration shall be the one with the earliest date.

Two. The competent national authority in each Member Country shall implement this Decision within 90 days following the date of the publication thereof in the Official Gazette of the Cartagena Agreement.

Three. The Member Countries shall, before December 31, 1994, approve common provisions governing access to biogenetic resources and guaranteeing the biosecurity of the subregion, pursuant to the provisions of the Convention on Biodiversity adopted in Rio de Janeiro on June 5, 1992.

* Note: English translation furnished by the Andean Community.