A plant breeder’s right allows the owner to obtain royalties as remuneration for efforts made during the breeding of a new variety of a plant, as the breeding and development of a new variety is expensive and time consuming. It is important to obtain new and improved plant varieties as there is a constant demand for better quality, higher yields, better processing properties and increased disease resistance. A plant breeder’s right is valid for a period of 20 or 25 years, depending on the kind of plant. 

During the first 5 to 8 years (period of sole right) the owner has the sole right to produce and market propagating material of the variety. During the next 15 to 17 years the holder is compelled to issue licenses to other persons who also wish to use and market such material. If the holder of the right refuses to issue licenses, these individuals may apply to the Registrar for a compulsory license. During the period of the right, the holder may continue to claim royalties from all licensees for any propagating material produced and sold. Only after the expiry of the full period of the plant breeder’s right, does the variety become public property and anyone may then propagate and sell it.