Plant Variety Rights Act 1987 review
We are reviewing the Plant Variety Rights Act 1987.
The Plant Variety Rights Act 1987 is now over 30 years old and has only had minor amendments since it was first passed. The plant breeding industry has changed significantly during this time and a review was necessary to ensure the regime is fit-for-purpose today. We also need a regime that protects kaitiaki interests in indigenous plants consistent with the Treaty of Waitangi – a central focus of this review.
Another major driver for the review was meeting our obligations under the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which requires us to align our PVR regime with the International Convention on the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV 91) by 30 December 2021.
The review of the PVR Act began in February 2017 and has been carried out by MBIE. We have engaged extensively with industry stakeholders and Māori organisations and individuals throughout the review, including the release of:
Issues paper [PDF, 1.8 MB] in September 2018
Options paper [PDF, 1.2 MB] in July 2019
Outstanding issues paper [PDF, 1.8 MB] in August 2020
In 2018 we consulted on an Issues paper
An Issues paper exploring the main issues and opportunities for change in the plant variety rights (PVR) regime was released for consultation over September-December 2018.
We held public/industry meetings and hui for engagement with Māori during the consultation period.
We also released a Māori engagement plan that set out how we planned to engage with Māori at this and later stages of the review.
What we heard during the Issues stage consultation
We heard a wide variety of views at the public/industry meetings and regional hui with Māori last year. We also received 36 written submissions on the Issues paper. These submissions cover a wide range of views, including plant breeders, growers, the legal sector and Māori.
Submitters who wished to remain anonymous are referred to as ‘anonymous submitter’. Redactions have been made in accordance with the Official Information Act 1982 and the Privacy Act 1993 and when content may be defamatory or commercially sensitive. Two submitters requested for their submissions to remain confidential. These submissions have not been published.
In 2019 we consulted on an Options paper
On 9 July 2019 we released an Options paper for consultation. This paper was informed by what we heard during the Issues stage, and by an independent economic analysis of the Plant Varieties Innovation system commissioned by MBIE. This analysis was carried out by the Sapere Research Group.
The Options paper set out options for changing the PVR Act and, where supported by the analysis, indicated preferred options.
What we heard during the Options stage consultation
We received 53 submissions on the Options paper, and held a two day hui in Wellington on 5-6 August. The hui brought together industry stakeholders and Māori organisations and individuals.
Overall, submitters were generally comfortable with the options proposed in the paper, but some changes were made in response to submissions. These are described in the Cabinet paper.
In 2020 we consulted on an Outstanding Issues paper
On 18 November 2019 Cabinet agreed to make change to the PVR Act. These changes give effect to our obligations under the Treaty of Waitangi and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
However a small number of additional policy issues required further consideration and consultation. These include Treaty of Waitangi compliance issues and operational issues relating to the PVR Office.
A discussion document exploring these outstanding policy issues opened for consultation on 10 August 2020 and closed on 5 October 2020.
What we heard during the Outstanding Issues consultation
We received 20 submissions on the discussion paper. Submitters who wished to remain anonymous are referred to as ‘anonymous submitter’. Redactions have been made in accordance with the Official Information Act 1982 and the Privacy Act 1993 and when content may be commercially sensitive.
We engaged through a hui and PVR Technical Focus Group, which were both held virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions. These brought together industry stakeholders and Māori organisations and individuals.
In 2021 we consulted on the proposed PVR Regulations
On 14 July 2021 we released a discussion document for consultation on the proposed regulations. Consultation for this discussion document closed on 1 September 2021. The current regulations, the Plant Variety Rights Regulations 1988 (the PVR Regulations) are now out of date and are not fit-for-purpose. For example, there are provisions where the PVR Act refers to something prescribed in the regulations, but where the regulations are silent. In addition, the PVR Regulations are silent on many procedural aspects relating to the process for making applications for the PVRs, examining and granting the applications, and dealing with issues that arise after grant.
In light of this, MBIE considers that a complete review of the PVR Regulations is required, rather than simply amending the current regulations.
Disclosure of origin requirements in the patents regime
Over September-December 2018 we also consulted on a discussion document considering options for introducing a requirement that patent applications include the origin of any genetic resources and traditional knowledge used in their inventions.
The new Plant Variety Rights Bill has been introduced to Parliament and received its first reading. It has now been referred to the Economic Development, Science and Innovation select committee for consideration.
You can find out more information about the Bill and track its progress through Parliament on the Parliament website.
Plant Variety Rights Bill(external link) — New Zealand Parliament
Following the consultation on the PVR regulations, we will provide advice to Ministers on these later in 2021.
It is anticipated that the new regulations will come into effect, along with the majority of the provisions of the Bill and the new PVR fee structure in mid-2022.