How to get plant breeders' rights and what protection it gives your plant varieties.
This guide tells you how to apply for intellectual property rights over your plant varieties in the UK.
These rights are known as plant breeders’ rights (PBR). You can get them from the Plant Variety Rights Office (PVRO) for the UK.
Read the guidance if you want to:
Who can apply
You can apply for PBR if you’ve bred, discovered or developed a plant variety, or if you’ve been chosen by the breeder as their successor.
An agent can apply to be appointed to manage the application process if they are authorised.
They’ll need to complete an authorisation of agent form.
If the applicant or agent applying isn’t based in the UK, you will need to appoint an authorised UK agent.
Upload this form using the attachment section in UPOV PRISMA when applying.
Who can’t apply
You can’t apply for rights of a plant you bred, discovered or developed for a company you’re employed by. Your employer can apply for the rights.
Plant variety rights in the EU
There is no change in protection in the 27 EU Member States.
Varieties with EU rights granted before 31 December 2020 will get a corresponding UK right from 1 January 2021, when EU rights will no longer apply in the UK.
If you’ve already applied for EU rights, but these were not granted before 1 January 2021, you must apply to the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) for protection in the UK using the UPOV PRISMA online application process.
For new varieties, you’ll need to apply separately in the UK and the EU. You must apply to the:
- Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) for UK protection
- Community Plant Variety Office (CPVO) for EU protection
UK businesses can still hold and apply for EU plant variety rights from 1 January 2021, although you’ll need an address or procedural representative in the EU.
What you can get rights for
You can get rights for new plant varieties, including genetically modified varieties.
To get rights, your variety must be:
- distinct – have different characteristics to other plants of the same species
- uniform – all plants in the variety must share the same characteristics
- stable – it remains unchanged after ‘repeated propagation’, for example reproduction from seeds, cuttings, bulbs or other plant parts
You can register your variety in the UK if you’ve already registered it in a different country. Your UK cover will be backdated to the start of the protection you got first.
What you can’t get rights for
You can’t get the rights for a variety if it’s been sold or used for commercial use:
- in the UK more than 1 year before you apply
- outside of the UK more than 4 years before you apply (6 years for trees or vines)
The exception is for varieties with an undecided EU application on 31 December 2020 and a subsequent UK PBR application made within 6 months. In this case, novelty is retained if the first commercialisation in the EU or UK was no more than 1 year before the date of application for EU rights (or the date of priority, if earlier).
Plant variety rights in the UK
Plant varieties with registered rights in the EU before 1 January 2021 have been given a corresponding UK right.
Change of details
If you want to change any details of your plant variety, contact email@example.com with your request and EU grant number.
The UK will continue to use the EU grant number for any correspondence.
The UK does not currently have an annual charge for the maintenance of UK plant breeders’ rights.
Rights holders should regularly review this guide for future management changes to PBR in the UK.
Get a consent for genetically modified plants
You must get at least one of the following consents:
- marketing consent for food and animal feed, contact the food standards agency on 020 7276 8829 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- marketing consent for things that aren’t food or animal feed, contact Defra on 020 7238 2051 or email@example.com
- consent to do research trials, contact Defra on 020 7238 2051 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Include a copy of your consent with your application for PBR.
You must also tell the Plant Variety Rights Office if you’re applying for breeders’ rights for a genetically modified plant variety.
Call 020 8026 5993 or contact the Plant Variety Rights Office by post.
How rights can protect your plant varieties
Your rights mean that nobody else without your permission can use your plant species for:
- production or reproduction
- selling or offering for sale
- altering so it can be propagated
- exporting or importing
- keep stock of your plant species for any reason
Your rights last for 25 years for plants or 30 years for trees, vines or potato varieties.
You can give up your rights at any time and rights may be terminated if the variety no longer fulfils its criteria.
Name your variety
You must name your variety. The same name will usually be used in the UK and all EU member states if the variety is accepted.
Choose a name that:
- isn’t already used by a variety of the same species
- can’t be confused with the name of another variety or other goods
- doesn’t cause problems with recognition or production
- accurately represents the variety or its characteristics, for example the name must not suggest that a variety has particular attributes
You can use a trade mark or trade name when you sell seeds of the plant, but the name registered on the national list must be clearly shown on the packaging.
Objections to a proposed name or proposed change of name.
Any person can object to a naming of a variety. This is known as ‘making a representation’.
Contact APHA to make an objection within 3 months of the decision being published in the gazette. APHA will respond explaining the objections process and how you can pay the £30 fee to make an objection.
PVS will write to you and tell you if your objection is successful or not.
Apply for plant breeders’ rights
All applications for UK Plant Breeders Rights must use the UPOV PRISMA online application process.
Apply using UPOV PRISMA, an online tool which helps you make applications with all participating Plant Variety Protection (PVP) Offices.
To apply online you will need to:
- set up an account
- log in
- complete and send your application
- complete the assignment of rights form and authorisation of agent form if assigning rights and/or authorising an agent - upload the forms using the attachment section in the UPOV PRISMA form
- pay the fee
Application closing dates
You can apply for PBR anytime. If you want to be included in a specific year’s test and trials, the application closing dates for agricultural and vegetable crops are the same as the closing dates for National Listing.
There are closing dates for the receipt of plant material. Anything received later will not be tested or trialled in that year.
Spring sown agricultural crops
|Species||Closing date for receipt of plant material|
|Spring Wheat||23 October|
|Annual Meadowgrass, Wood Meadowgrass, Smooth-Stalked Meadowgrass and Rough Stalked Meadowgrass||15 December|
|Brown Top, Red Top, Creeping Bent and Velvet Bent||15 January the following year after application|
|Common Vetch||29 November|
|Spring Lupin, Spring Rye, Spring Spelt Wheat and Spring Triticale||10 January the following year after application|
|Spring Barley and Spring Oats||15 January the following year after application|
|Spring Field Pea and Spring Field Bean||31 January the following year after application|
|Red Clover, Alsike Clover, Meadow Fescue, Tall Oatgrass, Birdsfoot Trefoil, Cocksfoot, Lucerne, Sainfoin, Tall Fescue, Red Fescue (Chewings Fescue), Alaska Brome Grass, Rescue Grass, Black Medick, Hungarian Vetch, Hairy Vetch, Timothy and Small Timothy||When requested|
|Spring Linseed, Spring Flax||7 January the following year after application|
|Ryegrass, White Clover, Festulolium||5 February|
|Sugar Beet||1 February|
|Spring Forage Rape, Spring Turnip Rape, Fodder Beet (Mangels), Fodder Kale, Swede, Fodder Radish||15 February|
|Spring Oilseed Rape, Mustard, Potatoes, Hemp||15 December|
|Soya Beans||15 January|
Autumn sown agricultural crops
|Species||Closing date for receipt of plant material|
|Winter wheat, winter oats and winter lupin||15 September|
|Winter field beans||1 October|
|Winter oilseed rape (GM only)||10 August|
|Winter turnip rape||31 July|
|Winter field peas||1 October|
|Winter forage rape and winter oilseed rape (non GM)||10 August|
|Winter linseed||1 September|
|Winter rye, winter spelt wheat and winter triticale||1 September|
|Winter barley||8 September|
The UK doesn’t have testing capacity for all the vegetable varieties listed. For the varieties that the UK does not have DUS testing capability for the UK will either purchase the Distinctness, Uniformity and Stability (DUS) report or will entrust another examination office to carry out the DUS testing on behalf of the UK.
Applications for vegetable varieties that the UK does not have DUS testing capability for can be received all year round. However the closing date for receipt of plant material is at the discretion of the entrusted examination office.
|Species||Closing date for receipt of plant material|
|Broad bean||15 February|
|Brussels sprout||28 February|
|Cabbage||Purchase of report or date of plant material at the discretion of the entrusted office|
|Cauliflower||Purchase of report or date of plant material at the discretion of the entrusted office|
|Chinese cabbage||Purchase of report or date of plant material at the discretion of the entrusted office|
|Cucumber||Purchase of report or date of plant material at the discretion of the entrusted office|
|Endive||Purchase of report or date of plant material at the discretion of the entrusted office|
|French bean||Purchase of report or date of plant material at the discretion of the entrusted office|
|Gourds||Purchase of report or date of plant material at the discretion of the entrusted office|
|Kohlrabi||Purchase of report or date of plant material at the discretion of the entrusted office|
|Leaf Beet||28 February|
|Leek (vegetatively propagated)||15 April the following year after application|
|Leek (seed propagated)||31 January the following year after application|
|Lettuce||Purchase of report or date of plant material at the discretion of the entrusted office|
|Marrow||Purchase of report or date of plant material at the discretion of the entrusted office|
|Melons||Purchase of report or date of plant material at the discretion of the entrusted office|
|Onions (over wintered)||15 July|
|Onions (spring sown)||31 January the following year after application|
|Parsley||Purchase of report or date of plant material at the discretion of the entrusted office|
|Runner bean||31 January the following year after application|
|Shallot (seed propagated)||28 February|
|Shallot (vegetatively propagated)||31 March|
|Spinach||Purchase of report or date of plant material at the discretion of the entrusted office|
|Sweet corn||Purchase of report or date of plant material at the discretion of the entrusted office|
|Tomatoes||Purchase of report or date of plant material at the discretion of the entrusted office|
|Turnip||31 January the following year after application|
|Watercress (seed and vegetatively propagated)||31 March|
This table sets out the closing dates for the main ornamental crops tested at the National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB) for the UK, Community Plant Variety Office (CPVO) and under bilateral agreements.
|Species or group||Final closing date for applications||Submission period for delivery of material|
|Chrysanthemums, All Year Round Varieties (AYR) Crop 1||14 August||11 to 15 January|
|Chrysanthemums, All Year Round Varieties (AYR) Crop 3||17 February||5 to 9 July|
|Chrysanthemums, Natural Season varieties, including garden varieties||1 December||12 to 16 April|
|Dahlias||1 December||10 to 14 May|
|Delphiniums, vegetatively propagated||1 December||22 to 26 February and 15 to 26 March, depending on type|
|Delphiniums, seed propagated||1 December||25 to 29 January|
|Herbaceous perennials, hardy varieties||1 December||15 to 26 March (Different dates will apply to varieties flowering over winter or in very early spring.)|
|Herbaceous perennials, tender varieties and basket/pot plants||1 December||26 to 30 April|
|Narcissus||31 May||23 to 27 August|
|Roses||30 September||1 to 15 November|
|Seed propagated ornamentals||1 December||20 to 24 January (Different dates will apply to varieties flowering over winter or in very early spring.)|
|Trees, shrubs and woody climbers||1 December||15 to 26 March (Different dates will apply to varieties flowering over winter or in very early spring.)|
Deadlines for ornamentals
Requesting authorities must forward their paperwork to the test centre within 10 working days of the applications.
The deadlines apply to vegetatively propagated varieties except where specifically indicated in the table. They assume all material is container grown except for chrysanthemums which must be supplied in the form of cuttings.
No plant material should be sent until specifically requested.
This table shows who you should contact for different plant and vegetable varieties.
|Team Manager for UK National Listing and UK Plant Breeders` Rights Administration||Rob Warlow||020 8026 email@example.com|
|Wheat, Oats, Barley, Triticale, Rye, Spelt wheat, Sugar beet,||Karen Lucas-Greef||020 8026 firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Herbage, Potatoes, Oilseed rape, Forage rape, Forage kale, Turnip rape, Swede, Agricultural and Vegetable Conservation varieties, Amateur vegetables||Isabel Chedd||020 8720 email@example.com|
|Vegetables, Ornamentals, Fruit||Caroline Power||020 8720 firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Maize, Field Pea, Field Bean, Soya Bean, Sunflower, Linseed, Ornamentals - Bilateral agreement applications only||Beata Potomska||020 8026 email@example.com|
|Integrated VCU trials||Jeremy Widdowson, BSPB, BSPB House 114 Lancaster Way Business Park Ely CB6 3NX||01353 653 firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Address for delivery of plant material for Ornamental Crops||Tara Sheldrake, NIAB, Park Farm, Villa Road, Impington, Cambridge, CB24 9NZ|
The UPOV PRISMA service fee is 90 Swiss francs (CHF), which must be paid directly to UPOV PRISMA when you apply.
APHA will issue invoices for the administration fee for UK Plant Breeders’ Rights applications.
The invoice will be issued following publication of the application in the Seeds Gazette. In the majority of cases this will be in the month following APHA receiving your application. For example, an application received by APHA during January will be invoiced in late February.
You’ll be invoiced for the costs of testing.
Read the updatedto calculate the total amount.
After you’ve applied
Your PBR will be granted within 2 months if your variety has already been shown to be distinct, uniform and stable.
Get your seed and plant materials tested
APHA will ask you to send the seed or plant material for testing if your variety hasn’t already been tested for national listing. They’ll tell you how much material to send and when.
- 1 year for ornamentals
- 3 years for trees
- 4 years for herbage varieties
- 2 years for other species
Extra tests of parental species might be needed if you’re registering hybrid varieties.
The method of testing is approved by PVS, and is done by:
- the National Institute of Agricultural Botany (England and Wales)
- Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (Scotland)
- the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (Northern Ireland)
PVS will send you copies of the results of your tests.
Get a published decision
The PVS will then publish the proposed decision on whether to accept or refuse the variety in its monthly gazette. All test results are then made available to anyone on request.
You’ll get breeders’ rights if:
- the variety is distinct, uniform and stable
- nobody has objected
- no new evidence shows that the proposed decision is wrong
New listed varieties are published in the gazette, together with the name of the person who owns the rights and any agents.
The Plant Variety and Seeds Office publishes a gazette giving notice about any of the following UK National List applications:
- application accepted
- application which is withdrawn
- proposed, approved and changed names
- proposed decision to accept or refuse a plant variety on to the National List
- proposed grants
- decision of the tribunal made on an appeal
- changes to a National List award or application
- grants and/or awards
- proposed surrenders/proposed deletions
- surrenders or deletions
You can use the gazette to follow the progress of an application through the Plant Breeders’ Rights and National Lists process.
The UK National Lists of varieties of Agricultural Plant Species and Vegetable Plant Species are published monthly in the Special Edition of the Plant Varieties and Seeds Gazette.
These lists are valid as of the last day of the month of the edition as published. Amendments to these lists are published in the monthly Plant Varieties and Seeds Gazette.
The gazette includes the contacts for the address codes for the National Lists awards.
Previous Issues of the Plant Varieties and Seeds Gazette or Special Edition.
If you need an earlier edition, email NLPBR-Applications@apha.gov.uk.
Change the name
You need to pay if you want to change a name after rights have been granted.
If you’re refused plant breeders’ rights
You can object to a decision if you’ve been refused PBR. This is known as ‘making a representation’. You must do this by email or by post within 14 days of the decision being published in the gazette.
Appeal against a refusal
You’ll receive a letter from PVS if the original decision is not overturned.
You can then make an appeal to Plant Varieties and Seeds Tribunal. Write to the address given in the letter.
If you lose your rights documents
Contact PVRO to get a replacement copy of your Grant of Rights.
End your rights
You can end your rights at any time by contacting the PVRO.
When you can be forced to give licences
For the first 2 years of you getting PBR, only you can licence other people to use your variety.
After 2 years, any person can apply for a compulsory licence if:
- they feel that you ‘unreasonably’ refused to grant the licence
- you imposed ‘unreasonable’ terms on a granted licence
The applicant will need to contact PVRO and show:
- a licence is necessary to ensure the variety is available to the public at a reasonable price, is widely distributed, or quality is maintained
- the applicant can and wants to exploit the variety in a professional way
Take someone to court
You can take someone to court if you think they are using your plant varieties without your permission.
First, you need to ask them about the source of the suspected plant material. You should treat all information you receive as confidential.
If they don’t give you this information you can start infringement proceedings in court.
Contact the Plant Variety Rights Office
Contact the Plant Variety Rights Office at:
Plant Variety Rights Office
Animal and Plant Health Agency
Tel: +44 (0) 208 026 5993