UPOV’s 2017 Spring Session - Upcoming Issues


UPOV will be meeting in Geneva for its Spring session during the week of 3rd to 7th April 2017. Its main rule-making body, the Consultative Committee (CC) will meet on 5th April in the morning, and UPOV’s highest decision-making body, the UPOV Council will hold its meeting in the afternoon. The proceedings of the CC, where Council decisions are prepared, is closed to observers. The Working Group on a possible International System of Cooperation (WG-ISC) that was established in October 2016, will meet on 5th April, without the presence of observers.

The following-up of the interrelations between UPOV and the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) will be a major issue in the Spring session. The report of the Symposium is yet not published. In their closing remarks, the Co-Moderators Mr. Muhamad Sabran, Chairperson of the Seventh Session of the Governing Body, ITPGRFA and Mr. Raimundo Lavignolle, Vice-President of the Council of UPOV, concluded that:

  • “We have seen the objectives and benefits of both treaties: UPOV Convention, ITPGRFA;
  • It is important to interpret and implement the two treaties in a mutually supportive way in the context of each Contracting Party;
  • In order to succeed in these objectives, it is important for the two organizations to work together and to provide the necessary support;
  • The Symposium highlights the need to involve all stakeholders in this process.”

The Symposium presentations are available here

The presentation by Sangeeta Shashikant, APBREBES President, is available here

Following the joint UPOV and ITPGRFA Symposium on Interrelations between the two bodies the 26 October 2016, the CC92 agreed to invite members and observers to provide suggestions for any further action concerning interrelations between the ITPGRFA and the UPOV Convention for the consideration by the CC at its ninety-third session.

In its suggestion to UPOV, APBREBES recommends a revision of the Explanatory Note on Exceptions to the Breeder's Right under the 1991 Act of the UPOV Convention (UPOV/EXN/EXC/1) as to include all acts of smallholder farmers in relation to the protected variety i.e. to freely save, use, exchange and sell farm saved seed/propagating material. The Explanatory Note should also clarify that all breeding activities of farmers, including breeding by selection, within the scope of breeders’ exemption. APBREBES also recommends the adoption of a decision that recognizes the right of governments to implement, in its PVP legislation, provisions to realize fair and equitable benefit sharing. Moreover, APBREBES recommends a decision that the UPOV Convention and its members shall respect, promote and implement Farmers’ Right to participate in decision-making processes in all UPOV activities and subsequently develop guidelines to implement Farmers’ Right to participate in decision-making in relation to such activities.

see APBREBES submission 16 January 2017

For background information on the issue of Interrelations see

APBREBES Press Release ‘UPOV’s Symposium on Interrelations between ITPGRFA & UPOV, Inadequate to Implement “Farmers Rights” Resolutions’ (April 2016). LINK

APBREBES Updates Issue #25, October 21, 2016

APBREBES Updates Issue #23, May 9, 2016

APBREBES Updates Issue #17, October 26, 2015

APBREBES Updates Issue #14, May 8, 2015


The International System of Cooperation (ISC) is another major point on agenda for the Spring Session. The CC will get an update of the progress of work from the Working Group of a Possible International Cooperation (WG-ISC) that will have its second meeting the 5 April.

The International System of Cooperation (ISC) has been a controversial issue since it was first proposed by the International System of Cooperation (ISC) was originally an initiative from the International Seed Federation (ISF), the International Community of Breeders of Asexually Reproduced Ornamental and Fruit Plants (CIOPORA) and CropLife International (CLI) in 2014. The original intention was to establish a harmonized mechanism for the filing and examination of applications for plant breeders’ rights (PBRs), with standardized requirements and forms which would then be assessed for compliance with formal requirements and novelty by selected preliminary examining office(s) as well as centralized testing of DUS (distinctness, uniformity and stability).

Since it was first introduced in 2014, several UPOV member states have questioned the proposal, in particular the need for a harmonized mechanism and its implications for national and regional plant variety offices. Some member states have also underlined that UPOV already has mechanisms such as the PLUTO and GENIE databases that, to some extent, help expedite the work and promote cooperation on DUS testing, and asked for more concrete evidence of the need for a new system, as well as a cost-benefit analysis for the establishment of an ISC. The members have also raised concerns issues such as the impact of the new system for Members at different levels of development and on regional systems; the average cost of protection; the financial impact of the new system on national offices; and the legal options for the creation of the system, bearing in mind the basis for the establishment through a contract, vis-à-vis other alternatives, such as a Patent Cooperation Treaty or Madrid-like agreement.  

The CC92 elaborated the Mandate and Terms of Reference of the WG-ISC, see para 48 of C/50/17. The WG-ISC shall, among other, provide the CC with an analysis of the need for an International System of Cooperation, advantages and disadvantages of the proposal as well as the existence of a legal basis under the Acts of the UPOV Convention. The CC92 ruled that the WG-ISC is restricted to members, and in consequence, its documents are not publicly available. The WG-ISC comprises the members that expressed interest to be part of it: Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, EU (including CPVO, Estonia, France, Germany, Netherlands and UK), Japan, Norway, USA. Other members are free to participate at any meeting and make comments.

In its first meeting in October 2016, the WG-ISC prepared a list of issues relevant for the needs of PVP offices. This list is on the agenda in the second meeting of the WG-ISC.

For more background information on the ISC, see

APBREBES Updates Issue # 26, December 13, 2016

Vague Results Question the Need for Harmonized PVP Filing System in UPOV;

A simple “agreement” proposed to accommodate Industry’s UPOV-plus demands and

Multinational seed industry pitches for further harmonization in UPOV.


The agenda of the 34th Extraordinary session of the Council on 6th April 2017 includes, in addition to standing agenda items, adoption of Draft 8 of the Explanatory Notes on Essentially Derived Varieties under the 1991 Act of the UPOV Convention (Revision), and of Draft 7 of the Explanatory Notes on Propagating Material under the UPOV Convention.