A system for the protection of plant variety rights has been established by Community legislation. The system allows intellectual property rights, valid throughout the Community, to be granted for plant varieties.
The Community Plant Variety Office (CPVO) implements and applies this scheme. The CPVO has been operating since 27 April 1995. On 6 December 1996, the Intergovernmental Conference of representatives of the Member States (IGC) decided that the seat of the CPVO would be in Angers (France). The CPVO, which is a decentralised Community agency, has its own legal status. It is self-financing, mainly on the basis of the various fees paid.
Strategic Plan of the CPVO
Download the Strategic Plan in PDF format.
Download the Strategic Plan Implementation Report in PDF format.
Structure of the CPVO and the actors involved
The Administrative Council: the CPVO is supervised by its Administrative Council, comprising a representative of each Member State and a representative of the European Commission, and their alternates. The Administrative Council advises the CPVO, formulates its general orientations and general guidelines, provides opinions, constitutes the budgetary authority of the CPVO, examines and controls both its activities and those of its President.
CPVO management: the management of the CPVO is ensured by its President, nominated by the Council of the European Union. The President takes all the necessary measures in order to produce the budget of the CPVO and to ensure its correct implementation in the framework of the powers conferred on him under the Community Regulations. He is assisted by a Vice-President who ensures his replacement in case of impediment. The President has delegated some of his duties to the Vice-President.
Internal organisation of the CPVO: the CPVO consists of two units (the Technical Unit and the Finance and Administration Unit) and four general services, the Personnel Service, the Legal Service, the Quality Audit Service and the IT Service.
The Board of Appeal: a Board of Appeal has been established which is responsible for deciding on appeals made against certain kinds of decisions taken by the CPVO. The Board is made up of a Chairman and alternate, and members chosen by the Chairman from a list (drawn up on the basis of a strict regulatory procedure) depending on the cases under consideration. The members of the Board of Appeal are independent.
The decisions of the Board of Appeal can be appealed against at the Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg.
Other institutions: Various Community institutions such as the Council of the European Union, the Court of Auditors (control of income and expenditure accounts), the European Parliament and the European Commission impinge directly or indirectly on the activities of the CPVO.
The main steps in applying for Community Plant Variety Protection
Step 1: Filling an application
The applicant files an application for protection either directly through the CPVO or through one of the national offices who subsequently transfers it to the CPVO.
Step 2: Checking an application
The services of the CPVO check that it is complete and eligible. If no obstacle prevents a grant of Community protection, the CPVO takes the necessary measures for organising the carrying out of a technical examination of the candidate variety.
Step 3: Technical examination
The aim of this is to verify that the variety is distinct from others, uniform in its characteristics and stable in the long run (DUS). The duration of the examination varies from one year for most ornamental species to six years for certain fruit tree varieties.
Step 4: Variety Denomination
Apart from the previous exigencies, the candidate variety must be designated by a variety denomination which is also subject to testing by the CPVO.
Step 5: Grant of title
Once the CPVO considers that the examination results are satisfactory and that all the other requirements have been fulfilled, it grants a Community Plant Variety Right for a period of 25 years, and up to 30 years for vines, potatoes and trees.