New Plant Variety Rights Bill introduced to Parliament

Article  \  25 Jun 2021

In New Zealand, plant variety rights are protected by the Plant Variety Rights Act 1987. This Act is now over 30 years old and no longer provides the protection required for the modern plant breeding industry.

For information on the background to the review, see our previous article.

Key differences to the current PVR Act

This Bill ‘gives effect’ to UPOV91 by aligning the regime with UPOV91 as far as possible, while also meeting the Crown’s Treaty of Waitangi obligations.


PVR Act 1987

New PVR Bill

Māori PVR committee and kaitiaki condition


Creation of a Māori plant varieties committee to assess the effect of the grant of a PVR on kaitiaki relationships with taonga species (indigenous plant species or a non-indigenous plant species of significance) and make decisions on whether the PVR application should proceed or what mitigations may be required.

Term of protection

23 years for woody plants, 20 years for all others.

25 years for trees and vines, 20 years for all others. (UPOV91)

Expansion of exclusive rights

PVR owner has the exclusive right to produce for sale, and to sell, reproductive material of the variety concerned (section 14).

Extends the exclusive rights to include importing or exporting propagating material of the protected variety, conditioning of the variety for propagation and stocking for the purpose of any restricted activity (section 14).

Rights over harvested material

Limited rights over harvested material from a protected variety.

Extends the rights to harvested material where the harvested material was obtained through unauthorised use of propagating material and when the rights holder has not had a reasonable opportunity to assert their rights in relation to the propagating material from which it is derived.

Farm-saved seed

No restriction on farmers saving seed for future use on their own farms.

Exempts farm-saved seed from coverage of a PVR, while providing that regulations may limit this exemption in the future.


Compulsory licences

Can be granted by the Commissioner if PVR owner has not made reasonable quantities of reproductive material available for purchase by the public at a reasonable price.

Introduces a public interest test for compulsory licences.

Essentially derived varieties

No concept of EDVs in current Act.

Introduces the concept of an EDV, which is a variety predominantly derived from an initial variety that retains the important characteristics of that initial variety. However, the wording in the Bill differs from that in UPOV91.

The Bill also clarifies procedural issues related to the PVR system and aligns these with processes in the 2013 Patents Act where possible.


The PVR Bill has passed its first reading in parliament and is now with the Economic Development, Science and Innovation select committee for consideration. Submissions on the PVR Bill close on 1 July 2021.

If you would like to read the bill, make a submission or track its progress, click here.

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