Protecting plant products in Europe


Frances Salisbury and Lindsey Woolley

Protecting plant products in Europe

Frances Salisbury and Lindsey Woolley look at the complex business of patenting agricultural products in Europe.

Food safety, security and nutrition are significant issues for today’s consumers. With increasing rates of obesity on the one hand, and food security issues associated with population growth, low incomes and global climate change on the other, the public has heightened awareness of the importance of availability, traceability, and nutritional content of food.

Modified Beneforte™ broccoli and Golden Rice are just two examples of modified crop species that are approved or being tested for human use. The improvement of crop species by genetic modification or modern breeding techniques remains a significant area of innovation, so it is important to consider how these developments can be protected.

Community plant variety rights (CPVRs) are available for the protection of individual plant varieties throughout the EU, provided these meet the required standards of being distinct, uniform, stable and new. Separately, European law requires that new plant varieties are registered on the National Listing before they can be marketed. Requirements for listing are similar to the requirements for CPVR protection (distinct, uniform, stable), and where a variety is covered by a CPVR, the right holder must consent to the registration.

plant products, food safety, community plant variety rights