Plant Breeders' Rights

Plant Breeders’ Rights are used to protect new varieties of plants. A plant breeders’ right is legally enforceable and gives the owner the exclusive rights to commercially use the variety, sell the variety, direct the production, sale, and distribution of the variety, and to receive royalties from the sale of plants.


In order to qualify for a plant breeders’ right, the variety must be:

  • New – i.e. propagating material or harvested material must not have:
    • been sold in South Africa for longer than one year
    • for a variety of a tree or of a vine, been commercialised in a convention country for more than six years, or in the case of any other plant for more than four years
  • Distinct – i.e. it must be clearly distinguishable from any other variety of the same species
  • Uniform – i.e. the plants of a variety look similar and are sufficiently uniform in relevant characteristics; and
  • Stable – i.e. the plants of the particular variety still look like the original plants after repeated cultivation.

Plant breeders’ rights are valid for 25 years for vines and trees, and for 20 years for all annual varieties, calculated from the date on which a certificate of registration is issued.

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