Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago
Intellectual Property Office - Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Legal Affairs, Trinidad and Tobago

International Union for the Protection of New Plant Varieties (UPOV)

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What is the UPOV system?

The International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) is an intergovernmental organization with headquarters in Geneva (Switzerland).
UPOV was established by the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants. The Convention was adopted in Paris in 1961 and it was revised in 1972, 1978 and 1991.

What is the purpose of the UPOV system?

UPOV’s mission is to provide and promote an effective system of plant variety protection, with the aim of encouraging the development of new varieties of plants, for the benefit of society. The main objectives of UPOV are, in accordance with the UPOV Convention, to: provide and develop the legal, administrative and technical basis for international cooperation in plant variety protection; assist States and organizations in the development of legislation and the implementation of an effective plant variety protection system; and enhance public awareness and understanding of the UPOV system of plant variety protection.

What is a Plant Variety?

The term “species” is a familiar unit of botanical classification within the plant kingdom. However, it is clear that within a species there can be a wide range of different types of plant. Farmers and growers need plants with particular characteristics and that are adapted to their environment and their cultivation practices. A plant variety represents a more precisely defined group of plants, selected from within a species, with a common set of characteristics. To see an illustrative example of a plant variety, please go to A detailed explanation of the definition of “variety” is provided in document UPOV/EXN/VAR “Explanatory Notes on the Definition of Variety under the 1991 Act of the UPOV Convention”

Benefits of the UPOV system

New, improved varieties of plants are an important and sustainable means of achieving food security in the context of population growth and climate change. New varieties that are adapted to the environment in which they are grown increase the choice of healthy, tasty and nutritious food while generating a viable income for farmers. Improving lives in rural and urban areas and providing economic development

Innovation in agriculture and horticulture is important for economic development. Production of diverse, high quality varieties of fruit, vegetables, ornamentals and agricultural crops provides increased income for farmers and employment for millions of people around the world. New varieties can be the key to accessing global markets and improving international trade for developing countries. At the same time, new varieties can support the development of urban agriculture and the growing of ornamental plants, shrubs and trees that contribute to improving the lives of people in the expanding urban environment.

Respecting the natural environment

Increasing productivity whilst respecting the natural environment is a key challenge in the context of population growth and climate change. Breeding plant varieties with improved yield, more efficient use of nutrients, resistance to plant pests and diseases, salt and drought tolerance and better adaptation to climatic stress can sustainably increase productivity and product quality in agriculture, horticulture and forestry, whilst minimizing the pressure on the natural environment.


Saves time and money by filing one application in one language and in one currency.


A single international registration simultaneously has legal effect in multiple territories, including the European Union.


Easier management and cooperation for your plant varieties through a centralized system, and you can expand protection into new markets with a single step.

What are the benefits of plant variety protection and UPOV membership?

The UPOV Report on the Impact of Plant Variety Protection demonstrated that in order to enjoy the full benefits which plant variety protection is able to generate, both implementation of the UPOV Convention and membership of UPOV are important. The introduction of the UPOV system of plant variety protection and UPOV membership were found to be associated with:

  1. increased breeding activities,
  2. greater availability of improved varieties,
  3. increased number of new varieties,
  4. diversification of types of breeders (e.g. private breeders, researchers),
  5. increased number of foreign new varieties,
  6. encouraging the development of a new industry competitiveness on foreign markets, and
  7. improved access to foreign plant varieties and enhanced domestic breeding programs.

In order to become a UPOV member the advice of the UPOV Council in respect of the conformity of the law of a future member with the provisions of the UPOV Convention is required. This procedure leads, in itself, to a high degree of harmony in those laws, thus facilitating cooperation between members in the implementation of the system.

How does Plant Variety Protection work?

The UPOV Convention provides the basis for members (see to encourage plant breeding by granting breeders of new plant varieties an intellectual property right: the breeder’s right.

The breeder’s right means that the authorization of the breeder is required to propagate the variety for commercial purposes. The UPOV Convention specifies the acts that require the breeder’s authorization in respect of the propagating material of a protected variety and, under certain conditions, in respect of the harvested material. UPOV members may also decide to extend protection to products made directly from harvested material, under certain conditions.

In order to obtain protection, the breeder needs to file individual applications with the authorities of UPOV members entrusted with the task of granting breeders’ rights (see  However, UPOV has developed UPOV PRISMA, an online tool which helps applicants to apply for breeders’ rights with all participating PVP Offices, via the UPOV website (see

What are the requirements for protecting a new plant variety?

Under the UPOV Convention, the breeder’s right is only granted where the variety is (i) new, (ii) distinct, (iii) uniform, (iv) stable and has a suitable denomination (see

PLUTO Plant Variety Database

The PLUTO database contains information on plant varieties from UPOV Members and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The UPOV Convention requires that variety denominations must be different from an existing variety of the same plant species or a closely related species (see the “Explanatory Notes on Variety Denominations under the UPOV Convention”, document UPOV/EXN/DEN).  The PLUTO database provides for a similarity search tool to make a preliminary check on whether a denomination is similar to the denominations of existing varieties of the same Variety Denomination Class (see the list of UPOV Variety Denomination Classes in Annex I of document UPOV/EXN/DEN).

Types of records:

  • PBR=Plant Breeders’ Rights;
  • PLP=Plant Patents;
  • PAT=Patents for Inventions;
  • NLI=National List;
  • BIL=Bilateral Agreements for Testing;
  • ZZZ=Other (specified by the contributor)
How do I file for a PVP?

In order to obtain protection, the breeder needs to file individual applications with the authorities of UPOV members entrusted with the task of granting breeders’ rights

UPOV PRISMA is an on-line tool to assist in making plant variety protection (PVP) applications to PVP Offices of participating UPOV members

36 UPOV members participate in UPOV PRISMA, including the European Union (CPVO) (European Union operates a PVP system covering its 27 Member States and the African Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI) (OAPI operates a PVP system covering its 17 Member States).

UPOV has developed UPOV PRISMA, an online tool which helps applicants to apply for breeders’ rights with all participating PVP Offices, via the UPOV website (see