Plant variety laws, among other norms of positive legal systems such as trademark and patent laws, were introduced in the past in some countries in the Middle East and North Africa region, either by their own codes or by including them in general codes. Such laws explore and discuss the plant varieties protected, the duration of protection, the transfer of rights, the procedures, penalties, and remedies, and the scope of protection.

Country

Law

Algeria

Law no. 05-03 (Implementing Regulations have not been issued yet)

Egypt

Law no 82/2002

Jordan

Law no 24/2000

Morocco

Law no 9/94

Oman

Law no 49/2009 (Implementing Regulations have not been issued yet)

Saudi Arabia

Law no 159/2004

Tunisia

Law no 99-42/1999

UAE

Law no 17/2009 (Implementing Regulations have not been issued yet)

International Conventions

Jordan, Morocco, Oman, and Tunisia are the only Arab countries that have acceded so far to the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants.

Basic provisions

  • - Examination and protection period: For the time being, plant variety applications are only admissible in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia. The national list of approved plant varieties is not the same across all five countries. In order to qualify for exclusive plant variety rights, a variety must be new, distinct, uniform and stable.

The rights conferred do not apply to acts done for: private and for non-commercial purposes; for experimental or research purposes; or for the purpose of breeding other varieties. Plant variety rights are usually granted by the national offices, after examination. Seeds are submitted to the plant variety office, which grows the plant for one or more seasons, to check that it is distinct, stable, and uniform.

If these tests are passed, exclusive rights are granted for a specified period, as detailed in the list below.

  • Egypt: 25 years from date of grant for trees and grapevines, and 20 years for other agricultural products
  • Jordan: 25 years from date of filing for trees and grapevines, and 20 years for other agricultural products
  • Morocco: 20 years from date of grant for species of great culture, and 25 years for species of arboriculture and vine
  • Saudi Arabia: 25 years from date of filing for trees and grapevines, and 20 years for other agricultural products
  • Tunisia: 20 years from date of grant for trees and grapevines, and 20 years for other agricultural products
  • Filing requirements: The filing requirements of a plant variety application are as follows:
  • Denomination of the variety.
  • Full disclosure of the origin of the variety and the method of breeding.
  • A detailed description of the consecutive stages of the choice and propagation processes which were used to breed the variety.
  • Proof of the novelty of the variety, in the sense that the variety has not been sold or otherwise disposed of for purposes of exploitation.
  • Proof of the uniformity of the variety in the sense that any variations are describable, predictable, and commercially acceptable.
  • Proof of the stability of the variety in the sense that the variety, when reproduced, will remain unchanged with regard to its essential and distinctive characteristics within a reasonable degree of commercial reliability.
  • Proof of the distinctiveness of the variety, in the sense that the variety is clearly distinguishable from any other publicly known variety.
  • Illustrations of the variety, if they are necessary to identify it, along with a brief description.
  • -Annuities: Maintenance fees are required to maintain the rights, as outlined in the table below.

Country

Annuities

Egypt

A maintenance fee is due annually and should be paid within a period not exceeding three months from the date of the grant of the certificate

Jordan

A maintenance fee is due annually and is payable during the first four months of each year following the year during which the plant variety is granted

Morocco

A maintenance fee is due annually on the anniversary of the date of grant

Saudi Arabia

A maintenance fee is due annually and is payable during the first three months of each year following the year the plant variety application was filed with a further grace period of three months (April-June) with payment of a surcharge

Tunisia

A maintenance fee is due annually on the anniversary of the date of grant

General State of Enforceability

In general, there are no precedents in the Arab countries on how prior cases regarding plant variety infringement have been decided. Generally speaking, the existence of such precedents give an indication of how the judicial interpretation of the laws would be in cases involving identical circumstances. So the question of enforceability of plant variety rights is a matter solely determined by the extent to which plant variety infringement is referred to under the local laws.