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The Importance of a Cohesive System Against PBR Infringing Activities

The just-ended CIOPORA Annual General Meeting 2023 has been an important moment of sharing and reflection on the latest crucial issues in the field of plant breeding. Among the trend topics, were undoubtedly the latest integrations in the GlobalG.A.P. certification standards for farm production - now including IP compliance as a precondition to issuing certification for good agricultural practices – and, more generally, the growing sensitivity to plant breeders’ rights by all stakeholders involved in the production and distribution chain. Sensitivity that even the most important marketplaces, such as Amazon, have been demonstrating in recent times, showing openness to better understand the plant breeding sector and its peculiarities.

A cohesive system with the active participation of all business operators is the only way to effectively stem the flow of illicit activities constantly perpetrated online and offline. This is CIOPORA’s goal, but it should be perceived as a common goal: pursuing it requires a common effort.

Cooperation and knowledge sharing on PBR protection and enforcement matters were also the basis of the dialogue within the Lawyers´Panel and the Enforcement Working Group meetings.

The meeting in Alexandria, has proven, once again, the Lawyers´ Panel to be a one-of-a-kind opportunity for peer-sharing, as it brings together the top industry legal experts from around the world to exchange views on the latest amendments in the different national legislations and report noteworthy case law. This meeting was further enriched by the interesting contribution of the newcomer lawyer-member, Lidija Djerić, who allowed all of us to learn about the growing relevance of PBR protection in Serbia and other Western Balkan countries.

With the last meeting, the Lawyers´ Panel chairmanship has officially been passed from Tjeerd Overdijk to Philippe de Jong. At CIOPORA, we are confident that the group activity will continue to bloom wonderfully in the wake of what has been sown up to now under Tjeerd´s expert hands, on whose unparalleled contribution we are proud to still count as a valuable group member.

The contribution offered by the members of the Lawyers´ Panel is substantial and crucial in shaping the line of CIOPORA´s activity. It will increasingly play a key role in providing useful recommendations for follow-up action by CIOPORA, especially regarding initiatives for raising awareness and proper understanding of plant breeders’ rights and strengthening the enforcement system: on all, the ones carried out in the context of cooperation with the EUIPO Observatory, such as the organization of the coming Enforcement Workshop for law enforcement authorities.

The same goes for the Working Group on Enforcement. Alexandra Sapir has shown herself as a perfect ally to make the group function at its best, both, for her considerable experience in the industry - especially as regards IP protection and enforcement - and for her engaging energy. Furthermore, the working group boasts an excellent contribution from its members. Fine examples were, lastly, Ernst-Jan Louwers, who presented the salient features of the Enforcement Toolkit on the Netherlands - written in collaboration with his colleague Eva van Groezen and newly published in the CIOPORA Member Area; and Joanna Pabiniak, bearing important testimony of Fresh Forward´s fight against online PBR infringement activities. In particular, she outlined Facebook’s reporting procedure for IP infringements, explaining the process followed and the system deficiencies found: above all, the lack of an online form for specifically reporting PBR infringements (available for trademarks and copyright, only) and the serious difficulties in retrieving a contact point to address the complaint. She closed her presentation with an open question: What can be done?

We leave you with this open question, calling for common reflection and open dialogue, awaiting further “ad hoc” discussions within the Working Group on Enforcement. To be continued…

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