Getting Ready to Apply for a Plant Variety Certificate of Protection

Application Requirements

Before applying to PVPO applicants should have:

  • bred a new variety
  • completed Distinctness, Uniformity, and Stability (DUS) trials
  • chosen a unique name

The variety needs to be:

  • New: Not yet sold commercially, or sold for less than a year in US or less than 4 years Internationally
  • Distinct: Distinguishable from any other publicly known variety
  • Uniform: Any variations are describable, predictable, and commercially acceptable
  • Stable: When reproduced, the variety will remain unchanged from the described characteristics

Claiming Priority

Priority may be claimed by an applicant submitting a PVP application when a preceding PVP application has been filed outside of the US in a UPOV member country. The date when the preceding application was filed would be considered as the filing date of the application in the US. By claiming priority, the applicant would have precedence over competitors applying for rights for a variety that has identical characteristics.

A claim for priority must be requested within 12 months from the date when the initial PVP application was filed. A copy of the preceding application, certified by an authority (translated into English), must be submitted within the 3 months following the request for claiming priority.

Variety Denominations

A variety must be identified by a unique denomination (name). The denomination is proposed by the applicant and is subject to the approval of the examiner. The examiner may reject the proposed denomination if there is reasonable cause and, if such is the case, the examiner will request that the applicant submit another proposed denomination. For crop kinds regulated by the US Federal Seed Act (i.e., field crops and vegetables) an applicant must request name clearance from the USDA Seed Regulatory and Testing Division.

Plant Variety Protection Advisory Board

The Plant Variety Protection Act provides for a Plant Variety Protection Board to be appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.  The Plant Variety Protection Board consists of 14 members representing farmers, the seed industry, trade and professional associations, and public and private research institutions involved with developing new plant varieties.  Members of the Plant Variety Protection Board provide oversight and guidance to the program on plant variety protection issues.

Choosing the Most Similar Variety

The most similar variety, or varieties, should ideally be a variety that has been protected by the PVPO

or another UPOV authority. If such a variety is not available, then the most similar variety should be described well enough for the PVPO to make a clear distinction between the new variety and the most similar variety. This additional information can be included as an Exhibit D.

Resources for finding the Most Similar Variety:

Conducting DUS Trials

Variety trials are conducted to compare the applicant variety to the most similar varieties. By growing the applicant variety and most similar varieties side-by-side, key differences can be identified between them.

DUS variety trials are performed by the applicant, or a third party, and must be conducted in either two locations in one year or two years in the same location to ensure that any environmental variances are minimized.

Data submitted by the applicant is compared to all known protected and public varieties in our database.

DUS trials must be completed before applying to ensure a timely examination process.

See UPOV DUS Guidelines

Contact Information

USDA, Agricultural Marketing Service
Science and Technology Program
Plant Variety Protection Office
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Room 2915 South, Stop 0274
Washington DC 20250
Phone: (202) 260-8983