Fourth revision of the seed law:
Protecting intellectual property rights and encouraging original innovation in breeding
“With the formal implementation of the rural revitalization strategy, the national seed industry is facing a new situation of intellectual property protection of new plant varieties, stimulating original innovation in breeding, and ensuring food security. The amendment of the Seed Law can further improve the legal system of the seed industry and promote the development and development of the seed industry. The development of intellectual property protection plays an important role in ensuring national food security and promoting the development of modern agriculture.”
The “Seed Law of the People’s Republic of China” (hereinafter referred to as the “Seed Law”) has recently ushered in its fourth revision.
The Seed Law was formally implemented in 2000 and was the first law related to seeds in my country. In the draft amendments to the Seed Law submitted for the 30th review by the Standing Committee of the 13th National People’s Congress this time, measures including “establishing a substantive derivative variety system” are considered to improve the level of protection of intellectual property rights in the seed industry and truly encourage breeding. The guarantee of the original innovation system.
Facing the industry’s pain points to promote the positive cycle
During group deliberations at the 30th meeting of the 13th NPC Standing Committee, Cao Jianming, vice chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, pointed out that solving the seed problem is the basis and prerequisite for ensuring national food security and the source and driving force of agricultural innovation and development. .
Cao Jianming pointed out that my country’s current seed law and the “Regulations on the Protection of New Varieties of Plants” can no longer meet the requirements of the national innovation-driven strategy and the modernization of agriculture and rural areas. “The protection system for new plant varieties in my country was formulated with reference to the International Convention for the Protection of New Plant Varieties (1978 text). There are problems such as low protection standards, narrow scope, and short chains. It is difficult to stimulate original innovation and contributes to the rapid success of breeding research and development. Repeating with low levels, the problems of foreign seeds, imitation seeds, decked seeds, and fake seeds are serious, which not only has a serious crowding out effect on the original innovation of breeding in my country, but also exacerbates the structural contradictions in domestic seed supply.”
A recent research report issued by China Merchants Securities Co., Ltd. pointed out that the serious infringements in the case of decking make it impossible to fully benefit from the seed research and development results and the inability to form a positive cycle is an existing pain point in the industry. This research report predicts that with the strengthening of policy supervision, the order of the seed industry is expected to be significantly improved, and the market share of leading research and development seed companies may increase significantly and move closer to overseas leaders.
According to Hao Mingjin, vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, the seed industry is the chip of agriculture, a strategic and basic core industry of the country, and a core element to ensure food security. In recent years, although the development of my country’s seed industry has made considerable achievements, it still faces problems such as low level of core technology mastery, large but not strong seed industry, lagging technology development, low concentration of market entities, and backward management systems and mechanisms. .
The draft amendment clarifies that substantive derived varieties can apply for new plant variety rights and obtain authorization. When they are used for commercial purposes, the consent of the owner of the new plant variety rights of the original variety should be obtained; the list of substantive derived varieties authorizes agriculture and rural areas Department confirmed, not retrospective.
At the same time, the draft amendment also increased the amount of punitive damages. The upper limit of the amount of compensation for infringement has been increased from 3 times to 5 times, from 3 million yuan to 5 million yuan.
The aforementioned research report of China Merchants Securities pointed out that the draft amendment has increased the amount of punitive damages to increase the deterrence against infringements on the rights of new plant varieties. It is expected that the level of protection of intellectual property rights in the seed industry will be improved from the legislative side, effectively solving industry pain points, and encouraging original breeding innovations. At the same time, because its level is higher than the judicial interpretation of the new plant variety rights that has been issued, it will also lay a solid foundation for the subsequent revision of the new plant variety protection regulations.
“With the formal implementation of the rural revitalization strategy, the national seed industry is facing a new situation of intellectual property protection of new plant varieties, stimulating original innovation in breeding, and ensuring food security. The amendment of the Seed Law can further improve the legal system of the seed industry and promote the development and development of the seed industry. The development of intellectual property protection plays an important role in safeguarding national food security and promoting the development of modern agriculture.” Luosang Jiangcun, a member of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress and vice chairman of the National People’s Congress Committee, pointed out in the group deliberations that the draft amendment expands the rights of new plant varieties. The content of rights and the scope of protection have established a substantive derivative system, perfected the infringement compensation system and legal liability, and has a strong contemporary, forward-looking and operability.
The draft amendment helps to mobilize the power of enterprises and capital markets
Through research, Li Yuefeng, a member of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, found that my country’s seed companies with revenues of less than 30 million yuan accounted for 65% of the total. Domestic seed companies with R&D and innovation capabilities accounted for less than 1.5% of the total. Most companies invested in R&D. It only accounts for about 1% of its sales, while the leading multinational companies in the industry generally account for about 10% of their sales revenue. He also found that from the perspective of R&D strength, the number of R&D personnel in the 10 domestic listed companies that are mainly seeded at the end of 2019 was only 1/20 of that of the leading multinational companies in the industry.
“It can be seen that, as the world‘s second largest seed industry market, my country urgently needs to improve the research and development capabilities and innovation enthusiasm of seed companies.” Li Yuefeng mentioned in the group deliberations.
Liu Zhenwei, vice chairman of the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee of the National People’s Congress, pointed out that my country’s current “Patent Law of the People’s Republic of China” was enacted and implemented in 1984, and it has been less than 40 years. He believes that, compared with some countries, my country’s intellectual property protection started earlier in the industrial field and has a higher level of protection, while it started relatively late in the agricultural field.
“Using natural genetic resources to cultivate new varieties does not seem to have much scientific and technological content. This is a misunderstanding. Variety selection and breeding has a high level of technology and it is difficult to develop a good new variety. Especially in today’s rapid development of biotechnology, breeding innovation has entered In the era of molecular level, cultivating new varieties is a very hard technology.” Liu Zhenwei said that this revision of the Seed Law focuses on the protection of intellectual property rights of seeds and raises them to the same level and intensity as the protection of intellectual property rights in the industrial field.
The draft amendment expands the protection scope and protection links of new plant variety rights, extends the protection scope from the propagation materials of authorized varieties to harvest materials, and expands the protection links from production, reproduction, and sales to production, reproduction, and processing (for reproduction). Seed treatment), promised sale, sale, import, export, storage, etc.
Liu Zhenwei specifically explained that if the scope of protection of variety rights is not extended, for breeders, the possibility of successful variety rights protection will be greatly reduced. In practice, the propagation material of plant varieties is likely to be transformed into harvested materials through planting and other acts that are beyond the control of the right owner, and then sold on the market. It is difficult for the right owner to prove that the seller of the harvested material constitutes a joint infringement or helps to infringe. , Without expanding the scope, the seller of the alleged infringing material cannot be required to provide evidence to prove its legal source, so that the source of the infringing material cannot be ascertained.
At the same time, Liu Zhenwei believes that expanding the scope of protection of variety rights can effectively prevent the large-scale entry of infringing crop harvest materials from transnational cultivation into the Chinese market. In recent years, foreign fruits, vegetables, and flowers have entered the Chinese market on a large scale, resulting in excessive dependence on these imported agricultural products in the Chinese market. Low-level protection of variety rights will make it difficult for domestic breeding units and enterprises to recover their investment from their original achievements, forming a vicious circle. “There are still some countries and regions in the world that have not yet established a new plant variety protection system. These countries and regions are likely to become global infringing varieties planting bases and then export to my country in the form of harvested materials. If my country does not extend the protection scope of variety rights to Harvesting materials cannot be prevented by customs measures, which will damage the legitimate rights and interests of the original innovation subjects of domestic breeding.”
“In the field of industrial intellectual property rights, domestic patent protection was looser from the 1980s to the 1990s; in the first 10 years of this century, the technical solutions for patent protection began to be slightly improved and then used. These two stages have gone through. Later, since 2010, the number of original inventions in my country’s industrial field has increased significantly, and some technical fields have entered the international frontier. This is forced by strict intellectual property protection.” Liu Zhenwei said, the protection of intellectual property in the agricultural field has also Need to have a reversal mechanism.
Sun Qixin, a member of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, believes that expanding the scope of protection of new plant variety rights and establishing a substantive derivative variety system is for us to promote the original innovation of the seed industry in the next step, increase variety protection, and drive social financial investment in the seed industry. Will play an active and very good role in promoting.
“The development of the seed industry cannot be completely supported by state finances. It must be driven by the capital market, financial market and social investment. To protect social investment and financial investment, intellectual property protection is a fundamental system.” Sun Qixin said.