New Plant Varieties

– Book VI of the Intellectual Property Code (Articles L.623 sq. and R.623 sq.).

Membership in International Conventions

– International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV), 1978 Act since March 17, 1983, and 1991 Act since May 27, 2012.
– European Community Plant Variety Rights Convention.

Filing

Applicant: any natural person or corporate body. Name of the breeder must be mentioned when he is not the applicant.

Foreigners: a citizen or resident of a UPOV country has the same rights as a French citizen. A national of another country may obtain plant variety certificates on condition of reciprocity. Non-residents must appoint an agent.

Conditions of protection: plant varieties which (1) differ by one or several important characteristics or by several combined characteristics from any other plant varieties already known; (2) are homogeneous; and (3) are stable.

Novelty: deemed except for plant varieties that (1) have received sufficient publicity to permit their working before the filing/priority date; (2) are described in an application or a certificate not yet published in France or in any foreign application. Exceptions regarding disclosure, subject to strict conditions.

Name: must be provided by the applicant.

Priority: may be claimed (within twelve months).

Filing requirements for an application (to be sent to resident agent):
1. 4 copies of an application form mentioning the name of the variety and the name of the breeder;
2. Complete specification of the variety with mention of the manner in which the variety has been obtained and its specific characteristics;
3. 4 copies of a declaration from the applicant attesting to the novelty and the non-divulgation of the variety;
4. Priority documents, within three months from the filing;
5. Declaration of renunciation by the applicant or his successor in title if he owns or has filed a trademark identical to the name of the variety.

Examination Procedure

The application is examined by the Committee for the protection of the plant varieties (Ministry of Agriculture). The Committee may deem a prior examination in another Union country sufficient.

Examination of the plant variety: by a specific organization (GEVES) as to its conformity with conditions of protection.

Examination of the variety name: a report is sent to the applicant who may present observations within a two-month period.

National defense: disclosure and free use of plant varieties may be prohibited; a specific authorization may be granted.

Publication: the application is published in the Official Bulletin.

Observations from third parties: possible within two months from the publication date, notified to the applicant by the Committee, which sets a time limit for a reply.

Appeal: decisions of the Committee may be appealed before the Paris Court of Appeal.

Granting

Beginning of protection: date of granting.

Duration: twenty-five or thirty years, depending on the species.

Maintenance fees: the first fee is due within two months from the notification of granting. The next fees are due each year on the last day of the anniversary month of the filing.

Period of grace: six months from the due date, for the second and subsequent annual fees, with additional late fees.

Scope of protection: certificate of plant variety confers to its owner an exclusive right to produce, to introduce into France, to sell or to offer for sale all or part of the plant, and all elements for reproduction of the variety. Cumulative protection of French and Community rights is prohibited.

Infringement action: may be brought before specific civil courts. Criminal action is also possible.

Assignment and granting of licenses: by private agreement, subject to publication to be effective against third parties; ex officio non-exclusive licenses may be granted.

Modification of Protection after Registration

Action for revocation: may be initiated by any interested party.

Forfeiture of the certificate of plant variety: on non-payment of an annual fee, when the holder of the certificate has not kept the elements of the vegetative material permitting the reproduction of the variety, or if surrender is requested.