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Plant Breeders Rights and Circuit Layouts

Plant breeder’s rights (PBRs) are used to protect new varieties of plant that are distinguishable, uniform and stable.

The plant breeder's scheme in Australia is governed by the current Plant Breeder's Rights Act 1994 (Cth).

In Australia, PBRs include water-efficient wheat and varieties of roses, e.g. Pink Iceberg Roses.

As well as meeting a set of criteria to pass examination, PBRs must also:

  • be distinctive from other varieties of the same plant;
  • be uniform and stable;
  • not have been exploited or sold outside certain time limits; and
  • have an identified breeder and an acceptable name.

A PBR gives the owner exclusive rights to exclude others form commercially using and selling a variety, it provides the opportunity for the right holder to collect royalties while directing the production, sale and distribution of varieties.

Other plant breeders can freely use parts of a registered PBR to experiment with, use non-commercially or develop a new variety for commercial use.

PBR application cost: $345 per class

Examination: $1610

Duration: 20 years

Renewal: $345 every year.

Sweeny Legal IP works with a number of QP’s (qualified people) qualified in a particular plant group in Australia and overseas. QP’s overseer the trial phase and help provide evidence that a plant variety is distinct, uniform and stable.


Circuit Layouts

Circuit layout rights automatically protect original layout designs for integrated circuits and computer chips. 

While these rights are based on copyright law principles, however they are a separate, unique form of protection.


What is a Circuit Layout?

Circuit layouts are the layout designs or plans (topographies) of integrated circuits used in computer-generated equipment.

They are sometimes referred to as computer chip or semi-conductor chip designs.

A circuit layout is a two-dimensional representation of the three-dimensional location of electronic components in an integrated circuit.

Circuit layouts are usually highly complex and the intellectual effort in creating them is considerable and may be of great value.

An integrated circuit or chip made from a layout is vital in all kinds of electronic devices, from pacemakers to personal computers.

Circuit layout rights are administered by the Attorney-General’s Department.


Protecting a Circuit Layout

If you are the owner of a layout design, you are not required to register it to be granted rights.

As the owner of an original circuit layout, you have the exclusive right to:

  • copy the layout in a material form;
  • make integrated circuits from the layout;
  • exploit it commercially in Australia.

Commercial exploitation may occur by importation, sale, hire or distribution of a layout or an integrated circuit made according to the layout.


How Long Does Protection Last?

From the first commercial exploitation, rights continue for 10 years.

The first commercial exploitation must occur within 10 years of creation of the layout, or 10 years from when it was made.

So the maximum possible protection period is 20 years from the year of making an eligible layout.

Liability by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation