Plant variety rights consultation starts

Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi today announced the start of public consultation on New Zealand’s plant variety rights law, which regulates intellectual property protection over new plant varieties.

While attending the Ngā Taonga Tuku Iho Conference in Nelson today with Hon Nanaia Mahuta, Mr Faafoi released an issues paper for public consultation.

  “The issues paper asks for feedback on the key issues we’ve identified with the effectiveness of the current plant variety rights regime.

“A robust plant variety rights regime gives plant breeders intellectual property rights over new plant varieties they have developed. The certainty of those rights encourages the development and dissemination of new plant varieties, which is both good for plant breeders, users of plants and seeds, and provides consumers with a wider choice of products.

“At the same time, I want to ensure our plant variety rights regime strikes the right balance between the interests of rights holders, Māori, farmers and growers, consumers and our wider economy so New Zealand gains maximum benefit from the regime while meeting our international and Treaty of Waitangi obligations.”

New Zealand has obligations under the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) to modernise its regime to meet international standards for plant variety rights protection, and must do that within three years of the agreement coming into force for New Zealand.

“New Zealand also negotiated a specific exception in the CPTPP to be able to adopt any policy it considers necessary to give effect to our Treaty of Waitangi obligations.

Ensuring the plant variety rights regime includes adequate protection and recognition of Māori interests in the regime will be an important outcome of this review.”

Alongside the plant variety rights consultation, Mr Faafoi also announced today the release of a discussion document that considers whether New Zealand should require patent applicants to provide information on the origin of genetic resources or traditional knowledge used in their inventions.

Following today’s release, officials will hold a number of regional hui for Māori and public meetings from October onwards.

“If you can’t make it to the hui, there are other ways to have your say and you can also provide written submissions. I want to ensure we are hearing from as widely across the sector and the community as possible, so I would urge anyone with interest in this work to review the material and have their say,” Mr Faafoi says.

Consultation will be open for 13 weeks, and close on Friday, 21 December 2018. The consultation documents and more information are here.