New Plant Varieties

– Plant Variety Law of December 11, 1985, last amended on August 18, 2021.

Membership in International Conventions

– International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV), since August 10, 1968, 1991 Act since July 25, 1998, and several bilateral agreements.


Applicant: the breeder or his assignee. The domicile of natural persons and the registered office of legal entities must be within the territory in which the law is valid. 

Foreigners: they must be citizens of a UPOV country or of a country which grants reciprocity. Foreign applicants must appoint a German representative. 

Conditions for protection: the plant variety must be distinguishable, homogeneous, stable and new and it must be described by a registered variety name. Varieties which are the subject of a Common Variety Law are not protectable. Those varieties are excepted from protection, which by their nature are not listed in the Register of species. 

Distinguishability: the variety must be distinguishable by at least one of its important characteristics from any other variety whose existence is commonly known at the time when protection is applied for. A variety is commonly known in particular if it has already been entered in an official Register, if a request for entry in an official Register has been allowed or if it has been commercially marketed. If another variety has an earlier filing date and protection is granted to the variety, based on this application, this represents a prejudicial prior right.

Novelty: the variety must not, or must not for longer than one year, have been given to a third party for commercial purposes, offered for sale or marketed, in the territory of the European Union or in the territory of any other state for longer than four years (six for some varieties).

Filing Office: Federal Variety Office (not the German Patent and Trademark Office).

Filing requirements for an application (to be sent to resident agent):
1. Power of attorney (not certified);
2. Application form (can be signed by the representative) stating the applicant, the original breeder, the facts of the assignation if the applicant is not the breeder, stating the application name/variety name and, if appropriate, claiming a priority (possible only from another UPOV country);
3. If priority is claimed: certified priority document;
4. Description of the variety.

Examination Procedure

Formal examination of the requirements for registration.

Publication: after the application has been accepted, it is published in the “Blatt für Sortenwesen” (Journal of Plant Variety Matters). 

Opposition: any third party may, within three months after the publication, lodge an objection with the Federal Variety Office against the variety or against the name of the variety. Oppositions because of unlawful taking can be lodged up to the time of granting of the protection for the variety.

Examination: the Federal Variety Office may examine the protectability of the variety. It can waive the examination provided that the results of own earlier examinations are available. The examination takes place by means of cultivating the variety. The Federal Variety Office requests the applicant to supply appropriate propagation material and to pay examination fees. All the parties to the proceedings may contest the decisions of the examination departments. This is adjudged by the decision committee.

Appeal: an appeal against judgments by the decision committee can be lodged with the Federal Patent Court.


Beginning of protection: with the registration; provisional protection starts when the variety is published. 

Term: up to the end of the 25th year following the grant. For certain varieties, up to the end of the 30th year following the grant.

Annual fees: the proprietor has to pay an annual fee for each year of the term of protection for the variety.

Voluntary licenses: possible; this is entered in the Register of protected varieties and is irrevocable.

Compulsory licenses: possible; against fair and reasonable compensation.

Use of the variety name: this is necessary.

Refusal of Protection after Registration

The protection for the variety is to be declared null and void if it is found that the conditions of distinguishability and novelty did not apply when protection was granted to the variety.