Plant Breeders Rights

PBR’s - Grower Obligations

Occasionally there are times in the market where better terms or prices provide the temptation for growers to ‘down grade’ Certified, PBR Registered seed to ‘uncertified’ or ‘variety not specified’ (VNS) and sell or trade it. It must be noted that under the PBR act this is illegal.

Under the Plant Breeder’s Rights Act it is a criminal offence to sell, barter or offer for sale any propagating material (certified or not) from a Registered Variety, or to stock such propagating material for any of these purposes. Currently, the penalties for infringement can be up to $55,000 for individuals and $275,000 for Companies.

The reason we have a PBR is to protect breeders who invest heavily into improving their designated industry through plant breeding and innovation. We have a PBR scheme to encourage plant breeding and innovation, without this encouragement we would not have the plant breeders we have today. Their position is protected by registering varieties under the PBR Act. Only authorised growers with a current Contract are licensed to propagate seed from those varieties. Trading outside of these arrangements is illegal. For these reasons seed companies will legally pursue any breaches of proprietary rights.

Generally, seed production paddocks are contracted for a term stated on their contract. Once the contract period has expired the paddock the PBR variety exists in is usually removed from seed production. There is a perception by some that once a paddock has come out of contract or becomes uncertified that it is deemed to be “not covered by PBR”. This is not the case. Therefore any stands that have run out of contract are not allowed to produce seed unless permission has been given from the owner of the variety.

If a property is sold or leased any current seed production contracts must be transferred to the new owner. Seed from PBR contracted fields cannot be sold without the consent of seed companies even if it’s deemed as ‘uncertified.’

To understand more about PBR and your obligations please go to their website on www.ipaustralia.gov.au/pbr and click on the links under “About Plant Breeders Rights”. There is a lot of information on this website regarding this issue so please take the time to have a look at it.

Please be aware that ignorance of the law is not a defence against legal action.