Towards a Balanced Regime of Intellectual Property Rights for Agricultural Innovations

Jefferson, David James; Camacho, Alex B.; Chi-Ham, Cecilia L.


The utilization of intellectual property (IP) rights in crop research is rapidly evolving, with an increasing number of countries and intergovernmental organizations becoming members of—and thereby ratifying the framework provided by—the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV). Nevertheless, in some countries there has been intense debate over whether to implement the most modern version of UPOV (i.e., the 1991 Convention, or UPOV 91). The example of Chile is paradigmatic, where UPOV 91 has been ratified by the national legislature but not yet signed into law by the president. The delay in Chile is at least in part the result of misunderstanding surrounding the changes that UPOV 91 could effect in the country. This report seeks to clarify misconceptions by comparing the most controversial provisions of UPOV 91 with its predecessor (i.e., the 1978 Convention, or UPOV 78). Additionally, the authors draw upon the example of public sector research institutions—especially the University of California, Davis—to demonstrate that the utilization of IP protections to incentivize agricultural innovation need not come at the expense of other socially beneficial goals.


Agriculture; Public University; Research; Intellectual Property; International Law & Policy.

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