PLANT VARIETY RIGHTS | The Italian Supreme Court on the scope of plant variety rights

On 9 April 2024, the Italian Supreme Court issued its decision No. 9429 on plant variety rights. Notably, the decision concerned the validity of a contractual clause prohibiting the licensee from marketing the harvested material outside the licensor’s authorised distribution network (the “Clause”) in light of Article 13 of Regulation (EC) No. 2100/94 on Community plant variety rights. On the basis of the principles laid down by the ECJ in case C-176/18, the Court held that Article 13(3) of Regulation No. 2100/94 provides that protection is granted to the harvested material only if (a) it has been obtained through the unauthorised use of constituents of the protected plant variety and (b) unless the holder has had reasonable opportunity to exercise his right in relation to the said plant variety constituents. Such limited protection is justified by the need to safeguard agricultural production and market supply and to encourage the continued selection of improved plant varieties. According to these principles, the Court held that the Clause was invalid.

Newsletter n. 96 – May 2024