The Protection of Plant Varieties Act, 2001 endeavors to provide for an effective system for the protection of plant varieties, right of the farmers and breeders and to encourage the development of new plant varieties. It was found necessary to protect plant breeder’s right to stimulate development in public and private sector to accelerate the growth of agricultural development in the country. The sue gereris mechanism of protection awarded to the plant varieties is due to the obligation mandated by TRIPS of Article 27.
As per Section 12 of the Act, a plant varieties registry shall be established and a register called the National Register of Plant Varieties shall be kept at the head office of the registry, which shall have records of the plant varieties and names of the breeders in the respective category. Currently, after five years from the enactment of the statute, the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmer’s Rights Authority have set up a National Plant Variety Registry under the Union Ministry of Agriculture to register crop varieties. The main advantage of the registry is that the Indian farmers and breeders are now able to protect their IPR over the breeds developed indigenously.
Currently around twelve crops/breeds have been identified for registration. Rice, wheat, maize, bajra, sorghum, pigeon pea, chickpea, lentil, mung, black gram, peas and rajma are the twelve crops identified. Other varieties are expected to be registered in a phased manner. The Chairman of the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmer’s Authority was quoted saying that the ministry will declare the registration open soon. The parameters for identifying the species are expected on the basis of distinctiveness, uniformity and stability framed up by the Indian Council for Agricultural Research. Presently, ICAR is developing the parameters for 12 other commercial crops including mango, rose and chrysanthemum.
The registration of the breeds would entitle the owners to gain exclusive commercial rights for the new variety for a period of fifteen years. Further the dead line for the crops or breeds that is already in public domain will have to be registered within three years. Another important feature is that during the course of registration, the breeders will have to label their breeds. While the spirits are high for the farmers and breeders, the question is whether the registry is opening new avenues for the dispute of brand names.
If the regulatory mechanism mooted is capable of maintaining the equilibrium of technological innovation and traditional farming, India is optimistically on the path of being a role model for other developing countries paving way for sustainable development.
This article enunciates the recent, much awaited, and landmark judgment delivered on September 16, 2016 by Hon'ble Delhi High Court throwing light on the important provisions of the Copyright Act, 1962.
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