A registration process for plant variety protection (PVP) has been in effect in Myanmar since enactment of the New Plant Variety Protection Law 2016, which was later replaced by the New Plant Variety Protection Law 2019 (“PVP Law 2019”). In accordance with its implementation of this law, the government is encouraging private companies, associations, organizations, and individual plant breeders to apply for the protection of new plant varieties in order to increase crop production in the country.
Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic in Myanmar, Tilleke & Gibbins successfully secured a plant breeder’s rights certificate for a client in June 2020, making the client the first certificate holder in Myanmar. This article summarizes the PVP application and registration process, and offers some practical insights into the authorities’ activities and approach.
The Central Committee for National New Plant Variety Protection (PVP Committee) oversees PVP registration, which is administered by the PVP Section of the Department of Agricultural Research (DAR) in the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Irrigation.
To apply for plant breeder’s rights in Myanmar, an application and a technical questionnaire on the new plant variety should be filed with the PVP Section, which reviews the technical questionnaire and determines whether the plant qualifies as a new variety.
Four groups are eligible to apply for PVP registration in order to secure plant breeder’s rights under the current PVP legislation:
- Myanmar nationals;
- Foreign nationals and organizations whose permanent residence is in Myanmar;
- Persons or entities resident in a country that has a PVP agreement with Myanmar; and
- International organizations.
An application can be examined in one of four ways (determined by the PVP Committee):
- Official field trial involving planting the new variety in Myanmar;
- On-site field inspection of the breeder’s field by the PVP Section;
- Examination of test reports of the authority in the applicant’s home country; or
- Purchase of test reports by the PVP Section.
Following examination, the PVP Section holds a technical meeting to discuss the results, followed by a meeting of the PVP Committee to make a final determination on the plant breeder’s rights application.
In order for a plant variety to gain protection, the breeder will need to show that the variety is new, distinct, uniform, stable, and is named in compliance with the requirements of the PVP Law 2019.
The PVP Section will publish notices of pending registration applications in a local newspaper. If a justifiable objection is raised within the duration defined in the notice (for instance, by an owner of the same plant variety who has already obtained a plant breeder’s rights certificate in Myanmar), the PVP Committee will not approve the application. If, on the other hand, there is no objection and the application is approved, the PVP Committee will issue a certificate of plant breeder’s rights to the applicant. Plant breeder’s rights last 25 years from the date of issuance of the certificate for trees and vines, while the protection period for other new plant varieties is 20 years. In addition, breeders are allowed provisional protection of their new plant variety from the publication of their application until the completion of examination.
The entire registration process may vary in duration but can take up to two years.
The registration process for the protection of new plant varieties in Myanmar is comprehensive and the experts and government officials involved in the process possess a high level of knowledge and skill. The officials are well trained by the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV), and interdepartmental communication happens smoothly without the involvement of the applicant. The current state of emergency in Myanmar, as well as public health restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, may cause delays, but the PVP Section, the DAR and the PVP Committee are developing temporary administrative workarounds.
Our recent success in securing Myanmar’s first plant breeder’s rights certificate, as well as our observation of the various stages in the process and the expertise of the parties involved, indicates that Myanmar’s PVP registration system is a reliable and worthwhile mechanism for plant breeders to achieve greater stability in their operations in Myanmar.