10 February 2022TrademarksMuireann Bolger

Spurned rose breeders plea over Valentine’s Day roses

Roses may be red but when it comes to IP, a host of flower breeders are feeling blue in the run-up to Valentine’s Day and have penned an open letter calling for greater recognition of their rights.

Love’s arrow

The letter, issued today, February 10, is aimed at rousing greater awareness of these rights as the annual celebration of love and romance looms, heralding this year’s peak in the global rose consumption.

According to 13 rose breeders and members of the International Community of Breeders of Asexually Reproduced Ornamental and Fruit Varieties, CIOPORA, their businesses have been threatened by the proliferation of roses originating from illegal sources.

The signatories noted that as millions of cut roses flood the market to satisfy the Valentine's Day demand, a considerable amount will have been grown in violation of breeders' IP rights.

The cohort called upon stakeholders within the rose business to observe and respect breeders’ IP rights worldwide.

The course of true love never did run smooth

The effects of this illegal practice are detrimental to rose breeders whose businesses rely on a sufficient return on their investment in new and improved cultivars, argued the letter.

Increasingly, the rose breeders explained, they face unauthorised propagation of their protected rose varieties in different countries.

Commenting on the letter, CIOPORA secretary general Edgar Krieger said: “Bringing excellent new varieties to the market, breeders should be able to rely on their partners upholding their end of the bargain.

“What the cut rose breeders are asking for is the sector’s commitment to fair business practices, where breeders can receive a sufficient return on their high investments in breeding.”

The chairman of the organisation’s cut rose section, Bruno Etavard added: “Giving roses on Valentine’s Day has become an ultimate expression of love. The open letter is the breeders’ appeal for more transparency, fairness and mutual respect in the rose production and trade.”

Good chemistry

According to the letter, by investing in the development of new and improved rose cultivars, breeders lay a foundation for the development of global horticulture.

“The new and improved rose varieties with a higher yield, resistance to abiotic stresses, longer shelf and vase life, and trendy colours provide competitive advantage and income premiums to the authorised growers and propagators,” it said.

This illegal practice not only violates the exclusive rights of breeders but also undermines the progress in horticulture and has a negative impact on the trade, the breeders added.

The open letter stressed the importance of prior authorisation by a title-holder for any use or sale of a protected variety, including cut flowers or any other part of plants. Plant material obtained from an unauthorised source constitutes a plant breeders’ rights (PBR)infringement, both in the country where it is produced and the countries where it is sold, it added.

A better connection

While the plants propagated or planted without authorisation are illegal and can be uprooted, the harvested cut flowers are illegal as well and can be seized either at the borders by customs, or at points of storage and sale, in territories where PBR is in force.

To combat any future breakdowns in communication and ensuing problems, the breeders have requested that all persons and companies always contact the PBR title-holder first, seeking a written approval and a corresponding licence.

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