Three Questions With…Dr. Ruihong Guo
Since January 2020 the US Plant Variety Protection Office (PVPO) began its works to provide protection for varieties of vegetatively reproduced plants, and from that date, this office has already received over 60 applications.
One of the heads of this project is Dr. Ruihong Guo, deputy administrator of the Agricultural Marketing Service Science & Technology Program, who also oversees scientific and analytical support services to the agricultural community, including the PVPO, Laboratory Approval &Testing Division, Pesticide Data Program, and Seed Regulatory & Testing Division.
After being part of the AGM 2022, Dr. Guo talked with us about the main challenges of this office, the concern about germplasm deposit, and the D.U.S report exchange between different Plant Variety Rights Offices.
1.- The possibility for breeders of vegetatively reproduced ornamentals and fruits to apply for PVP in the US exists only since two years? What are the advantages of this system for the breeders? What are the disadvantages?
The US Plant Variety Protection Office started offering PVP protection for varieties of vegetatively reproduced plants in January 2020 and has received over 60 applications so far. The new service makes PVP protection available to all plant kinds in the US and provides another valuable option to breeders to protect their plant intellectual property. In addition to plant and utility patents, breeders can now choose to follow the PVP path and enjoy its many benefits, such as the ability to protect an EDV variety and a longer time-period to qualify for newness. The longer newness period is particularly significant for our international customers, because having four years (six years for trees and vines) to apply after the date of the first sale of a variety gives them more time to explore the market and still be in time to apply for protection.
Another advantage is the ease of using the PVP system. Anyone can apply from anywhere in the world, without required attorney service or representation. Breeders can conduct their own field trials or submit results of trials conducted by a third party. The application process is facilitated by a free one-stop electronic system that allows applicants to applicants to 1) file new plant variety protection applications, 2) amend existing applications, 3) pay fees, 4) check the status of an application, and 5) correspond directly with PVPO staff. The electronic system also interfaces with the UPOV PRISMA.
There are no inherent disadvantages to the new system, although there is a cost involved and breeders accordingly consider and evaluate all options and their overall strategies to decide which tools to pursue.
2.- The Germplasm Deposit is one of the concern for breeders who want to apply to the PVPO. What is the status of it? What are the main worries that you received and what is the PVPO doing to handle it? Why are the rules so strict in this case, while for a Plant Patent and even for a Utility Patent for asexually reproduced crops, deposits are not required?
The Plant Variety Protection Act of 1970, as amended in 1994 and 2018, requires deposits of propagating material to accompany applications for variety protection under the Act. This requirement applies to asexually reproduced varieties on the effective date of January 6, 2020. However, enforcement of the requirement is delayed through January 6, 2023, due to technical infeasibility to deposit propagating material for certain asexually reproduced varieties. The new regulations further provide that after the delayed enforcement period, PVPO may continue to grant waivers if the technical challenges remain.
During the last 2.5 years, PVPO has learned that many species of vegetatively reproduced plants cannot be predictably and efficiently processed for long-term storage, so it is becoming clear that continuing to delay enforcing this requirement through waivers warrants serious consideration. PVPO is in the process of developing instructions for applicants and will be issuing them expeditiously.
3.- One thing valued by breeders is the easy exchange of to D.U.S Report between different Plant Variety Rights Offices. What is the vision of the PVPO about this? What can the different offices do to improve the exchange process?
PVPO strongly supports the exchange of DUS reports between UPOV members. It was with this vision that we designed our new program to align with UPOV test guidelines and accept DUS reports from other UPOV members. We accept DUS reports for all vegetatively reproduced varieties and have successfully done so for multiple applications. We are also implementing a pilot project to augment the current US breeder-run testing system by adding an on-site trial examination conducted by PVPO staff. The initiative will focus on certain asexually reproduced plants and participation will be voluntary. The goal is to produce DUS reports that are acceptable to other UPOV members.
Mr. Andrés Velásquez
Director PR and Communications
Tel: +49 40 555 63 702