New varieties are constantly being developed for higher yields, better agronomic traits like taste, resistance against pest or diseases, tolerance to saline or drought conditions.

These new varieties need to be protected given the fact that substantial investment in terms of skill, labour, resources, money and time is required in the breeding of new varieties.

Varieties of all botanical genera and species, and particularly their hybrids now can be protected under the Plant Variety Protection law.

It is a process by which a plant can be 'controlled' in terms of who propagates it and how many.

Plant Variety Protection (PVP) or otherwise known as Plant Breeders' Rights, is a form of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) which grants breeders of new varieties exclusive rights to exploit their plant varieties for a specific period of time.

In Malaysia, these rights are administered under the Protection of New Plant Varieties (PNPV) Act 2004 and the Protection of New Plant Varieties Regulations 2008 (PNPVR).

Duration Of Protection:

The grant of protection can last for 20 years for a registered plant variety that is new, distinct, uniform and stable.The grant of protection can last for 15 years for a registered plant variety that is new, distinct and identifiable.

Where an application is made with respect of tree or vines, the Board may register the plant variety and grant breeder's right for a duration of 25 years.

  1. Breeder;
  2. Employer of the breeder;
  3. The successor in the title of the breeder;
  4. Farmers;
  5. Local community or indigenous people whohave carried out the functions of a breeder; and
  6. Government or statutory body which has carried out the function of a breeder.

To apply for PVP, the candidate plant variety must meet the following criteria:

  1. NEW
    Earlier than one year before the date of application in Malaysia where the sale or disposal is made in Malaysia; and Where the sale or disposal is made outside of Malaysia, earlier than six years before the date of application in the case of trees or vines, or earlier than four years before the date of application in the case of other plant varieties.
  2. Distinct
    The variety must be clearly distinguishable from any other plant variety at the date of application.
  3. Uniform
    The variety is sufficiently uniform in its relevant characteristics, subject to the variation that may be expected from the particular features of its propagation.
  4. Stable
    The relevant characteristics of the variety remain unchanged after repeated propagation or, in the case of a particular cycle of propagation, at the end of each such cycle.

On another hand, where a plant variety is bred, or discovered and developed by a farmer, local community or indigenous people, the plant may be registered as a new plant variety and granted a breeder right if the plant variety is new, distinct and identifiable.

A mere discovery or find would not entitle the person to protection. Development is necessary.

What Is An Identifiable Plant Variety?

The variety is considered "identifiable" if it can be distinguished from any other plant grouping by the expression of one characteristic and the characteristic is identifiable within individual plants or within and across a group of plants.

Under the plant variety protection system, protection is extended to:

  • any plant variety which is essentially derived from the protected plant variety;
  • any plant variety which is not distinct from the original plant variety; and any plant variety where the production of such variety requires the repeated use of the protected plant variety.

Essentially Derived Variety

One that is distinguishable from the initial variety, but that retains the essential characteristics of the initial variety.

Take, for example, a new apple variety developed from an existing variety.

If the new variety differs from the existing variety only in cosmetic features such as leaf colour or shape, but produces fruit that is identical in shape, colour and taste to that of the existing variety, it may be considered an essentially derived variety.

The rights conferred do not apply to:

  • Act done for private and for non commercial purposes;
  • Act done for experimental or research purposes;
  • Act done for the purpose of breeding other varieties;
  • Act of propagation by small farmers using the harvested material of the registered plant variety on their own holdings;
  • Any exchanging reasonable amounts among small farmers; or
  • The sale of farm-saved seed in situations where a small farmer cannot make use of the farm-saved seeds on his own holding due to factors beyond the control of the small farmer.