Sui Generis Approach The Seed Industry

The SIA was enacted on 6 December 1995 and entered into force on 31 December 199 7. The Act is in conformity with the 1991 International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) Convention, which entered into force on 7 January 2002 in the Republic of Korea. The National Seed Management Office (NSMO) under the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries is in charge of implementation of the plant variety protection (PVP) in Korea, except trees, which are managed by the Korea Forestry Service.

The purpose of the Act is not only to develop the seed industry but also to contribute to the stability of agriculture, forestry and fishery.16 Therefore, unlike the PVP Act (PVPA) in the USA, the SIA includes not only the protection of breeder's rights but also management of variety performance of major crops and seed certification. For example, rice, barley, soybean, potato and corn for food should be registered in an official catalogue of varieties under art. 114 of the SIA.

The scope of protection under the SIA includes general plant varieties, i.e. sexually or asexually propagated plant variety. The Korean government has limited the number of plant variety for protection and gradually increased it for the consideration of related industries. However, 113 botanical genera and species have been protected in 2003, and the coverage of protection will be extended to the whole plant variety until 2009 (Fig. 19.1).

The requirements for protection under the SIA are novelty, distinctness, uniformity, stability and denomination. The examination shall be carried out by field test and documents. Distinctness, uniformity, stability (DUS) testing of the applied variety is performed in the field for 2 years in one location at the National Seed Management Office. The examiner may entrust a research institute, university or any appropriate person with DUS testing to perform the examination.

A variety protection right holder, under the SIA, has an exclusive right to exploit the protected variety commercially and industrially. Exploitation includes any activities to propagate, produce, process, assign, lease, export and import the variety. However, there are some exemptions for use of a variety protected by the SIA: for self-consumption and non-commercial purposes, for experimental and research purposes, as well as for the purpose of breeding other varieties. The Minister of Agriculture and Forestry may restrict a variety protection right for a variety, if a farmer collects the seeds of the variety for himself for the purpose of self-production. Under this farmer's exemption, the scope of limiting the variety protection right is up to the maximum amount of seeds that can be planted on the land cultivated by the corresponding farmer.

Tree and fruit varieties are protected for 25 years, whereas others are protected for 20 years.

Under the SIA, 1744 applications were filed to PVP from 1998 to January 2004. Table 19.2 shows that foreigners have actively applied for PVP especially focusing on rose varieties since 2001.

45 40 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0

41

30

31

30

-

27

25

24

1997 2000 2001 2002 2004 2006 2008 2009

Year

1997 2000 2001 2002 2004 2006 2008 2009

Year

Fig. 19.1. Number of genera and species protected by the Seed Industry Act.

Table 19.2. Applications and registration for plant variety protection by foreign breeders (May 2002). (From Choi, 2002.)

Number of applications

Table 19.2. Applications and registration for plant variety protection by foreign breeders (May 2002). (From Choi, 2002.)

Number of applications

Applicants

of species

1998

1 999

2000

2001

2002

Total

Domestic

48

224

72

94

221

1 48

759

Foreign

3

-

-

-

11

79

90

(Rose)

-

-

-

-

-

77

77

(Impatiens)

-

-

-

-

11

-

11

(Dendrobiu)

-

-

-

-

-

2

2

Total

48

224

72

94

221

238

849

Number of registrations

Number of registrations

325 0

0 0

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