'We need to test the system' Andrea Mansuino speaks on CIOPORA’s Behalf at China PVP Forum
By Andrea Mansuino and Alanna Rennie
The PVP Forum took place in Yanqing, a remote area on the outskirts of Beijing, which will be the location of the 2019 International Horticulture Expo to take place next year between April 29 and October 7.
The event was opened by the local authorities inviting foreign visitors to attend the 2019 International Horticulture Expo, where exhibitors from over 100 countries and at least 15 million visitors are expected. The PVP Forum was moderated by CIOPORA lawyer member Dr. Yu. Dr Yu’s partner in the newly established Beijing Zongke International PBR Royalty Management Co., also spoke about PBR enforcement in China later in the day. Several CIOPORA members including Benary, RAI, and Meilland International were in attendance and took stage to present their companies. The mood in the room was very constructive. However, the live interpretation of some presentations slightly hindered the communication of the legal terms and intricacies, undeniably this is a challenging task.
PVP Directors’ speech and CIOPORA members’ concerns
The PVP presentations began with the Director of the PVP Office under the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr Cui Yehan, providing an interesting overview of the state of China’s PVP framework and prospects for the near future, namely, UPOV 1991 based legislation, and new enforcement regulations.
During the Q&A session with Dr Cui Yehan, Andrea Mansuino emphasized that international breeders are concerned with the "mutation breeding" activities often undertaken by Chinese companies and proceeded to enquire about the possible changes to the current EDV definition, if China was to accede to UPOV 1991 soon. Dr Cui Yehan explained that the law would conform to UPOV 1991 definitions and the more precise EDV requirements will be included subsequently in the regulations including enforcement.
In his speech, Dr Cui Yehan also addressed other PVP related issues. He confirmed that the Farmers’ Privilege provided by the current law was aimed at nongmin and did not cover such products as flowers, as they are not meant for “own use”. Dr Cui Yehan further noted the high level of industry concern with the limited number of protectable genera and species, and provided that the number of protectable species will be rapidly increased in the near future. Another interesting comment was made about the scope of protection and the broad definition of propagation material. Dr Cui Yehan said that such a definition should be reasonably interpreted, for example a "kiwi fruit will not be considered propagating material" while a "rose stem will be".
Andrea Mansuino presented on “CIOPORA’s key concerns on Chinese PVR”. Judging by the questions received and engagement from the audience, CIOPORA’s understanding of the China situation and our positions seem to be well understood and accepted.
“We need to test the system”
On the side of the international guests (also clearly perceived during IPM Beijing) there is a lot of enthusiasm about the possibilities that a more open and transparent protection and licensing environment in China will offer.
The Chinese industry and lawyers remain concerned with the scepticism, with which foreign breeders approach China’s marketplace. The shared belief is that, over the past years, the system has improved considerably.
In one of Andrea’s final remarks, he stated that without any doubts international breeders should now enter the Chinese market, register their plant varieties, test the system from the administrative, civil, and, eventually, penal standpoint, and approach the market with a bolder commercial attitude. At the same time, questions about the effectiveness of protection are in the hands of judges. From CIOPORA’s standpoint, “when a law is good and clear there is little need for court action”. It is the task of legislators to create the right conditions for a fair business market.