Parliament passes Plant Variety Protection Bill 2020 into law

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The Plant Variety Protection Bill, 2020 which seeks to establish a legal framework to protect the rights of breeders of new varieties of plants or plant groupings and to promote the breeding of new varieties of plants in Ghana has been passed into law.

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Gloria Afua Akuffo on Wednesday, 4 November moved the motion for the adoption of the resolution which was supported by the Minority Leader and the Member of Parliament (MP) for Tamale South, Haruna Iddrisu.

The Bill was laid in the House on Friday 9th October 2020 by the Attorney-General in accordance with Article 106 of the 1992 Constitution and referred by the Speaker Prof. Michael Oquaye to the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs for consideration and report pursuant to Order 179 of the Standing Orders of the House.

A brief background information on the Bill as presented to the House indicated Ghana as a party to the World Trade (WTO) Agreement on Trade and Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).

This international agreement which resulted from the Uruguay Rounds and became effective on 1st January 1995 set out the minimum standards for regulation by state parties to protect different forms of intellectual property.

The country in her quest to harness the intellectual capacities of the citizenry in compliance with her international obligations has enacted a number of intellectual property laws in the past decades including the Patents Act 2003 (Act 657), the Geographical Indications Act 2003 (Act 659), the Industrial Designs Act 2003 (Act 660), the Trademarks Act 2004 (Act 664), the Layout-Designs (Topographies) of Integrated Circuits Act 2004 (Act 667) and the Copyright Act 2005 (Act 690).

Despite all these frantic efforts aimed at establishing an effective legal framework regime to protect intellectual works of creators, there remains a gap in the law regarding a major aspect of intellectual property which is the protection of rights of plant breeders.

The first attempt to fill this gap was made in 2003 by presenting in the Sixth Parliament of the Plant Breeders Bill 2013 which was later withdrawn to allow and seek further consultations though a considerable work was done on it by the House, and after nationwide consultations, the Bill has now been reintroduced by the Attorney-General as the Plant Variety Protection Bill 2020.

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