The varieties are protected, but also the economic interests of the rights holders who legally exploit them.
The protection of varieties: varieties are protected by plant variety certificates (cov) which are equivalent to patents (as in the industry) or copyrights (copyrights).
The application for a cov can be made either at a national or at a European level according to the development orientations that the breeder wishes to give to his variety. However, Community protection has strengthened the arsenal of national protections. The protection confers on its owner all rights to the propagation, offer for sale and import of the plant material including the whole plant but also grafts and fruits. Its object is also to protect the research work, the creators but also the rights holders, in this case the arborists and the marketers. Protection is first perceived as a constraint because it has repercussions in the form of royalties on the price of seedlings purchased by arboriculturists, but it is a bulwark against all fraud and unfair competition.
The first fruit variety that benefited from a European cov, ie a Community protection, is the Cripps Pink apple variety in 1997. It was this protection of the fruit that allowed the establishment of an integrated approach organized through a selective distribution network associating vertically all the operators of the sector: nurserymen, producers, packaging stations and distributors approved by the license manager. As with all other varieties with VOCs, the Cripps Pink cov fruits which circulate in the EU and which have not been produced on authentic trees or in respect of breeders’ rights are counterfeit.
It is in this logic of protection that in the past, for example, Chinese apples were rejected from the European Union. But we must remain vigilant and surveillance on the ground remains an important and necessary part of protection.
France is a pinoneer in the protection of varieties
The scope of protection is thus also addressed to importers, wholesalers and European retailers who would engage their liability with counterfeit material. France has been a pioneer in the protection of varieties, enabling French publishers to maintain a leading position in the management of plant varieties. The protection of a variety allows its holder to define and organize the development of its variety by choosing its partners and distribution territories so as to value quantitatively and qualitatively its variety according to its free will. “