Plant Variety Protection
The Plant Variety Protection Act is a federal law that gives owners and
developers of new varieties the exclusive right to control the production and
marketing of those varieties for planting purposes. It was established to
promote development of new varieties and allow breeders the ability to generate
funds to use for future research and variety development.
Types of protection
Plant Variety Protected (PVP)
The owner of the variety has the exclusive right to control the production and marketing of their varieties. Seed of these varieties can only be sold with authorization from the owner. Producers who acquire seed of these varieties legally through authorization from the owner, have the right to save seed for use on their own farm indefinitely, but cannot sell their production for planting purposes.
Plant Variety Protected Title V option
If the owner elects the Title V option, seed of these varieties must be sold as a class of certified seed. Certification permits a person in possession of the variety to sell it as a seed product. There can be no common or “brown bag” seed sales of these varieties.
A patent is a type of property right that gives the patent holder the right to exclude others from making, using, offering to sell, selling, or importing into the United States the subject matter that is in the scope of protection granted by the patent. The owner of the variety has the exclusive right to control the production and marketing of their varieties. Unlike PVP varieties, grain produced from legally acquired seed with a utility patent cannot be saved for planting on your own farm.
Saving, selling, and conditioning protected varieties
|PVP||PVP Title V||Patent|
|Save seed for planting?||Yes¹||Yes²||No|
- If the seed was acquired legally through authorization from the owner
- If the seed was purchased as certified seed
- Limited to the amount of seed needed to plant the farmer's own holdings
Conditioning PVP varieties
Conditioners may be held liable for cleaning seed of PVP varieties that are intended to be sold as seed. Conditioning should be limited to the amount of seed needed to plant a farmer’s own holdings. If a conditioner cleans seed that was not legally purchased with authorization from the owner, the conditioner can be held liable for damages by the owner of the variety. Conditioner’s should get a written document from the grower stating that the seed will not be sold to others for planting purposes and will be only used on their own holdings.
Penalties for violations
Violations of PVP laws can result in fines up to $5,000 per violation or seed sale. Additionally, there can be numerous violations of the North Dakota State Seed Law, which can carry a fine of $5,000 each. Variety owners may also seek compensation for up to three times the damages plus court costs and attorney fees on seed sold and from the crop produced from the illegal seed planted. Conditioners will also be held liable for conditioning a PVP variety that was subsequently sold as seed to other producers.