PVR Law Reform

New Zealand's Plant Variety Rights (PVR) law is based upon a UPOV (International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants) convention, and we're still operating under a 1978 convention. It's been superseded by a 1991 convention, one that gives breeder far more protection. Around the world more and more jurisdictions have adopted UPOV91, including many of NZ's significant trading partners.

Late in 2016 the Government committed to PVR Act reform, a process that will see work through 2017 and beyond. Information below records progress through several milestones.


21 December 2018

NZPPI Submission on issues associated with the Plant Variety Rights Act 1987 to inform the Act's review by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment



PVR reform and MBIE meeting


The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) is beginning its review of the Plant Varieties Rights Act 1987. To initiate the review, MBIE is holding some targeted, technical workshops with industry experts in plant variety rights in the first quarter of 2017 and several industry members have been invited to attend.

The targeted, technical workshops with industry form part of stage one of a two-stage engagement process. The purpose of these workshops is to discuss the issues and options for reform of the Plant Variety Rights Act.  The workshops will inform the development of proposals for stage two of the process which is the formal, public consultation (the timing of stage two is yet to be determined).

MBIE will also be holding technical workshops with Maori/iwi.

The first industry workshop will be held on 1 March 2017 in Wellington and if you’ve an issue that needs to be considered at this early stage, please contact John Liddle.

Government confirms a review of the PVR Act


In October 2016 Thomas Chin, Steering Group Chair, prepared the following update for interested parties.

This communication is addressed to all members of the pan industry plant variety rights group (PVG).

The following is a round up on where the Steering Group (SG) is up to in promoting the update of the Plant Variety Rights Act 1987.

To recap
The PVG was first convened in July 2015 involving a wide range of industry representatives with interest in plant IPR.

A Steering group (John Liddle - PPI, Wendy Cashmore - PFR, Bruno Simpson - Wiamea, Andy Warren - Bloomz, Ian Gear and Thomas Chin - NZPBRA) was formed and met several times. Several drafts of a policy paper, Q & As, and letters to the Minister, were prepared. The Minister of Commerce, the Hon Paul Goldsmith has also briefed.

The effect of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement on the timetable for reform of the plant variety rights regime has and continues to be monitored.

A final industry policy paper for reform of the Plant Variety Rights Act 1987 was sent to MBIE in July 2016.

Over the past few months the Steering Group has remained proactive and we believe our efforts to date have been positive and influential.

We have also opened exploratory discussions with senior Iwi representatives from the National Iwi Chairs Forum (which has good visibility with the Government). The purpose being to find out more about likely issues re WAI262, who would represent those interests, and to develop relationships.

Earlier this month members of the SG were invited to meet with MBIE IPR officials. They informed us of the following:

  • Reform of the Act was a “Ministerial priority”
  • Reform of the PVR Act was on the MBIE work-plan
  • Planning for the reform of the Act would proceed regardless of the outcome of the international TPP (geo-political) developments

On the horizon:

  • There would be consultation with industry stakeholders (and Maori separately) over the coming months as part of a review of the legislation
  • Consultation would initially be via “Technical Workshops” (to identify technical issues). Expected timing: late Feb17 to Apr17. Invitees, venue(s) and agenda details are yet to be finalised.
  • Following the workshops a discussion document would be issued. Expected timing: mid-2017. Public input would then be invited (for an 8 week duration).
  • Feedback from the discussion document would be used to inform the drafting of new legislation
  • Draft legislation would most likely be examined by Parliament’s Primary Production Select Committee.
  • Under a best case time scenario, new legislation could be in place by the end of 2019.

Elsewhere of relevance, we note that:

  • US Presidential elections are due to be held on 8 November
  • Parliament’s Foreign Affairs select committee is due to table its report and recommendations on the TPP Bill on 12 November

Finally, please let us know if you have any questions.

And we welcome any breeders/producers/others interested in plant IPR to be involved with the PVG or SG.

Thomas Chin
For Steering Group

PVR Law Reform Update - Dec 2015


Executive Summary

  1. Since late 2014 NGINZ has been working with the NZ Grain and Seed Trade Association (NZSTGA) to advocate PVR Law Reform - specifically NZ’s adoption of UPOV91 and other improvements to NZ's PVR legislation.
  2. Key issues at hand
    1. UPOV91's extension of breeder's rights and protection of their interests.
    2. Improved appeal mechanisms.
    3. Ease of enforcement and compliance.
  3. The project was initiated by NZSTGA who strongly support reform, independent of, but recognising TPPA's adoption mandates UPOV91.
  4. A PVR Law Reform Steering Group (NZSTGA, NGINZ, cut flower and fruit tree sector interests) was formed in August 2015, and has met with Commerce Minister Hon Craig Foss and MBIE officials.
  5. The Steering Group has been very ably aided by law firm Franks Ogilvy - Steven Franks is a constitutional law specialist and former MP.
  6. NGINZ seeks co-funding support (circa $10,000) in order to meet a share of Franks Ogilvy expenses.

... read more

Trans-Pacific Partnership and PVR Law Reform


With the signing of the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) comes an obligation for the Government to review the Plant Variety Rights system, and specifically to align New Zealand intellectual property practice with the UPOV91 convention. Several plant based industries; grain and seed, nursery, flower growers and production horticulture began work in this regard some time ago, and recently met to review their approach to PVR Law reform. The meeting considered existing New Zealand law (based upon UPOV78), that applying in overseas jurisdictions and the opportunities available to plant breeders. If you have experiences that we need to consider and account for, please let John Liddle know - john@nginz.co.nz.

PVR Act Reform Meeting


PVR Act Reform Meeting
Wednesday 19 August
10am to 12noon
The Wellington Club,
L4, 88 The Terrace, Wellington

There has been recent progress in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations and it will likely include/require changes to our intellectual property legislation, PVR included. The adoption of UPOV91 will likely be on the agenda.

The NZ Grain & Seed Trade (NZGSTA) and NZ Plant Breeding & Research Associations (both mainly associated with cereals and arable crops) have been active in their advocacy for the adoption of UPOV91, particularly as it relates to the collection of royalties from farmer-saved seed.

NZGSTA has included NGINZ in these discussions and we joined NZGSTA in a meeting with MBIE officials in May.

It is important that industry interests are promoted at early stages of the discussions and policy formulation.  To that end NZGSTA has organised a meeting of interested sector stakeholders to consider some of the issues (letter attached and details above). This meeting is open to all who have an interest in plant intellectual property and will be facilitated by Stephen Franks, the principal of Franks Ogilvie, a Wellington-based firm.

Of course the specifics of future legislation will be also guided by the TPP, and consideration of Maori and WAI262 matters. However some insight into the increased provisions for breeders rights that UPOV91 facilitates can be seen in a draft Bill that was prepared in 2002. The (parked) draft Bill and other papers can be viewed here - http://www.med.govt.nz/business/intellectual-property/plant-variety-rights/review-of-the-plant-variety-rights-act-1987

In particular the Cabinet Paper summarises the main differences between UPOV78 and UPOV91, page 13 at http://www.med.govt.nz/business/intellectual-property/pdf-docs-library/plant-variety-rights/review-of-the-pvra-1987-pdf.

Contact John Liddle, john@nginz.co.nz for more information and your feedback so we can work work to promote industry interests in the reform of the Act.

If you intend joining us on 19 August would you please RSVP to both John Liddle, john@nginz.co.nz and Thomas Chin of NZGSTA, Thomas.chin@seedindustrynz.co.nz.

UPOV 91 Advocacy


NZ PVR law is based upon a UPOV (International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants) convention, and we're still operating under a 1978 convention. It's been superseded by a 1991 convention, one that gives breeder far more protection. Around the world more and more people have adopted UPOV91, Australia for example; but it's not that simple. Norway is actively campaigning against its adoption! Our progress was interrupted by a Waitangi Tribunal claim for flora and fauna, WAI 262. The tribunal reported on this some time ago, but government is yet to respond.

In July NGINZ began collaboration with The Grain & Seed Trade Association and cut flower growers to advocate for UPOV91’s adoption. It will not be a quick job, the consultation and advocacy task list is long and the election has "got in the way". It's also tied up in TPPA negotiations!