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9 September 2014Asia-Pacific

Australia suggests uprooting plant rights committee

The Australian government department responsible for IP has suggested abolishing a committee that looks after plant breeders’ rights as it looks at alternative means for giving advice to breeders.

IP Australia has launched a consultation that suggests making changes to the existing plant breeder's rights advisory committee (PBRAC), which provides advice on the IP rights available.

According to the consultation report, the PBRAC’s usefulness “resides in its specialised and technical knowledge of plant breeding and utilisation” available to the government on request.

However, it has now recommended replacing the committee.

"It is proposed that all references to the committee are removed from the PBR Act and the committee is replaced with a non-statutory mechanism to provide specialised advice on plant breeders’ rights matters," the consultation document said.

It has outlined three potential options for change, including replacing the committee with a group supported by IP Australia.

According to the consultation document, the group may “comprise wider representation from stakeholders in academia, industry and government, creating the potential for wider stakeholder engagement.

“This option also has the benefit of actively involving stakeholders on a regular basis,” the document said, adding that it would be analogous to other non-statutory consultative groups for patents, trademarks and designs.

The second option suggests the possibility of a cross-government advisory committee, while the third suggests implementing an expert panel comprising appropriate specialists to consider and provide advice on plant breeders’ rights.

Respondents are invited to answer questions on what their preferred option is and if they have other suggestions.

The government body is inviting interested parties to make a submission by October 31.

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