Just three months ago, Francesco assumed as President of the Community Plant Variety Office (CPVO), and in a short time, we can already see the first signs of his work and where their challenges are pointing.
Digitalization of internal processes, constructing bridges between SMEs and Intellectual Property topics, policy support, development of efficient PVR systems and creation of more educational spaces for breeders, are some of the goals of the 51 years old Italian lawyers.
During this interview, he also gives us a first look at some aspects of CPVO's 5-year plan and the study realized by the EUIPO-CPVO assessing the socio-economic impact of plant variety protection in the European Union.
What is on your immediate priorities for this year?
As you mention cooperation, I would like to stress that one of my immediate priorities is precisely to reinforce the cooperation between the CPVO and its strategic partners and stakeholders, to which CIOPORA belongs.
While the community plant variety rights system, as a tool that instills innovation and guarantees a fair return on investment to the breeding sector, has proven helpful and steady since the mid 1990’s, more can be done to promote the benefits of the system and to encourage additional breeders to file for plant variety rights.
In this context, I have planned several business trips across the European Union where I will be meeting with national authorities and the breeding industry to better understand what are their expectations of the system, their market strategies and their approach towards plant innovation and IP protection.
I already visited Italy in March, and I am now planning to meet with key institutional, industry and university stakeholders in The Netherlands, Germany and France. Other countries will follow.
Another immediate priority is the ongoing reflections and preparations of the next Strategic Plan of the CPVO. This plan will set the tone of our actions for the next five years and is therefore very important.
While I am already certain that we will continue to upgrade our digital tools and services in order to make applications and PVR management more efficient, user-friendly and cost-effective for the breeders, I want to start from a blank page and leave room for more innovative actions and ideas. For instance, we are going to look at how the CPVO can best support and encourage European SMEs from the breeding sector to invest in R&I and to apply for plant variety rights.
Finally, I would like to inform the CIOPORA network that the CPVO will organise a policy seminar, in Angers and online, on 28 April 2022 where we will present the long-awaited EUIPO-CPVO study assessing the socio-economic impact of plant variety protection in the European Union. This study will also help us take stock of the most important trends, strengths, and bottlenecks of the community plant variety rights in order to identify where we must place focus and take targeted actions to better promote the system.
What developments and project would you like to see through during your first term?
There are many projects that I would like to advance during my mandate, and I am currently working with my team to assess how we can further improve the CPVR system to best serve the breeding community.
When it comes to filing, examination and fees processes, we will continue the digitization of all procedures and the development of databases, such as the Variety Finder, providing real values and timely information for breeders.
When it comes to CPVO’s core business activities and its purpose, I wish to take concrete actions that encourage plant innovation and that brings evidence that plant variety protection helps addressing today’s environmental challenges and delivers greater value for the society.
For instance, I would like to include PVR in the European Commission’s Horizon IP Scan programme, thus helping SMEs from the breeding sector to manage and valorise Intellectual Property (IP) in R&I collaborations. I will also establish more partnerships between the CPVO and European universities, and I want to launch a PVR Academy, providing free courses and online resources to the breeding community so that breeders of all sizes can access tutorials and see the benefits of filing for protection.
Another area in which the CPVO will become more present during my mandate is policy support. I believe the system needs to fit for today’s and tomorrow’s challenges and we must therefore bring our experience and know-how to support the definition of relevant future EU policies.
We are currently supporting the European Commission in the context of the review of the seed marketing legislation, and we also look forward to future debates on New Breeding Techniques and to the review of the basic regulation establishing the Community Plant Variety Rights system.
In terms of international cooperation and knowledge exchange with other PBR offices – what are CPVO’s priority countries and what measures are planned in this regard?
The CPVO is involved in several international cooperation projects. On the geographical scope, the projects we are involved in cover almost the whole globe.
The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) manages EU funded projects on behalf of the European Commission on Intellectual Property matters. These projects cover also PVRs, for which the CPVO cooperates in the implementation of several activities.
Namely, we are involved in the IPKey Projects (under European Commission’s DG TRADE) covering China, South-East Asia and Latin America. Recently, a continental project in Africa was launched, under the aegis of European Commission’s DG INTPA, and in Africa we also contribute to the implementation of a technical assistance project with OAPI, the so-called OAPI Roadmap (PPOV Project). Last but not least, we have a fruitful cooperation with a project in the Caribbean (CarIPI), always managed by the EUIPO, and from that stemmed a TAIEX project for the Dominican Republic, to provide technical assistance in the development and improvement of the PVP system.
The CPVO priority is to support the development of efficient PVR systems, in terms of strength and uniformity of protection in the international fora, as well as in terms of enforcement. You can have the most up to date system to apply for PVRs, be it accessible and efficient, but if the means for right holders to enforce their rights are not as advanced as the rest of the system, the protection is not effective.
This is why one of the priorities, also expressed by the European Commission in the IP Action Plan, is to strengthen cooperation with enforcement authorities, from police to customs and to judges, and engage with the different levels of the enforcement path to build capacity and raise awareness on the most common issues encountered in the enforcement of rights by breeders and right holders.