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China Steps Up Efforts on IPR Protection
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An intellectual property exhibition in Beijing this week displayed not only counterfeit goods but some new plant varieties, fresh content for China's intellectual property rights (IPR) protection.

In China, the protection of new plant varieties has been an important part of the country's IPR protection strategy, just like the protection of brands and patents.

The Chinese Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) announced in Beijing on Sunday that China has ascended to fourth position in the world in applications for protecting new agricultural plant varieties.

By the end of March this year, China has received a total of 3,207 applications for protecting new plant varieties, including 114 applications from foreign entities.

About 747 applications have been approved in China, the ministry said.

China launched the regulations on protecting new plant varieties as early as 1997.

On April 23, 1999, China acceded to the "International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants" and became the 39th member of the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV).

According to government regulations, a new plant variety refers to a cultivated plant variety, or a developed one based on a wild plant, which is new, distinct, uniform and stable, and its name is designated. Without permission from the owner, no one is allowed to grow or sell these new varieties.

Liu Ping, vice dean of the science and technology center under the MOA, told Xinhua that in the past seven years, China has included 62 kinds of plants and 78 kinds of forestry plants in the national list of protected plant varieties, setting a fair platform to protect plant breeders' rights.

In 1999, the government received only 115 applications on protecting new plant varieties for the whole year, while the annual total jumped to 950 in 2005, Liu said.

The MOA has organized more than 30 training programs in the past seven years to increase the public's knowledge on plant breeders' rights.

A latest investigation on 500 new plant varieties shows that the government invested 40 percent for the research and development of new plant varieties, with the rest coming from non-government sectors.

According to Liu, the protection of new plant varieties has benefited farmers greatly.

The 500 new plant varieties under investigation have been promoted to about 640 million mu (42.67 million hectares) in China, increasing an additional grain output of 56.32 billion kilograms, with an additional value of 22.37 billion yuan, said Liu.

In 2005, China planted 150 million mu (10 million hectares) of new plant varieties of rice, wheat and corn, producing an additional grain output of 8 billion kilograms, Liu said.

To better protect plant breeders' rights, China's agricultural authority has issued laws and regulations to fight against illegal cases violating plant breeders' rights.

Currently, more than 800 violation cases have been investigated by the judicial departments, with 460 cases having been taken to courts.

(Xinhua News Agency April 24, 2006)

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