Test Guidelines Introduction

1. Introduction

(See document TG/1/3, "General Introduction to the Examination of Distinctness, Uniformity and Stability and the Development of Harmonized Descriptions of New Varieties of Plants" (Adobe PDF), Chapter 1)

1.1 According to Article 7 of the 1961/1972 and 1978 Acts and Article 12 of the 1991 Act of the UPOV Convention, protection can only be granted in respect of a new plant variety after examination of the variety has shown that it complies with the requirements for protection laid down in those Acts and, in particular, that the variety is distinct (D) from any other variety whose existence is a matter of common knowledge at the time of the filing of the application (hereinafter referred to as a "variety of common knowledge") and that it is sufficiently uniform (U) and stable (S), or "DUS" in short. The examination, or "DUS Test," is based mainly on growing tests, carried out by the authority competent for granting plant breeders’ rights or by separate institutions, such as public research institutes, acting on behalf of that authority or, in some cases, on the basis of growing tests carried out by the breeder [1] . The examination generates a description of the variety, using its relevant characteristics (e.g. plant height, leaf shape, time of flowering), by which it can be defined as a variety in terms of Article 1(vi) of the 1991 Act of the Convention.

1.2 The purpose of TG/1/3: "General Introduction to the Examination of Distinctness, Uniformity and Stability and the Development of Harmonized Descriptions of New Varieties of Plants (hereinafter referred to as "the General Introduction") (Adobe PDF), and the associated series of documents specifying Test Guidelines’ Procedures (hereinafter referred to as "the TGP documents"), is to set out the principles which are used in the examination of DUS. The identification of those principles ensures that examination of new plant varieties is conducted in a harmonized way throughout the members of the Union [2]. This harmonization is important because it facilitates cooperation in DUS testing and also helps to provide effective protection through the development of harmonized, internationally recognized descriptions of protected varieties.

1.3 The only binding obligations on members of the Union are those contained in the text of the UPOV Convention itself, and the General Introduction must not be interpreted in a way that is inconsistent with the relevant Act for the member of the Union concerned. However, on the basis of practical experience, the General Introduction seeks to provide general guidance for the examination of all species in accordance with the UPOV Convention, and accordingly it is adopted by the Council of UPOV. In addition, UPOV has developed "Guidelines for the Conduct of Tests for Distinctness, Uniformity and Stability," or "Test Guidelines", for many individual species or other variety groupings. The purpose of these Test Guidelines is to elaborate certain of the principles contained in the General Introduction, and the associated TGP documents, into detailed practical guidance for the harmonized examination of DUS and, in particular, to identify appropriate characteristics for the examination of DUS and production of harmonized variety descriptions. Test Guidelines developed prior to the adoption of document TG/1/3 will have been developed in accordance with the version of the General Introduction in existence at that time, and will be updated on their next revision. 

1.4 The individual Test Guidelines are prepared by the appropriate Technical Working Party, which is composed of government appointed experts from each member of the Union with invited experts from other interested States and observer organizations. The main international non-governmental organizations in the field of plant breeding and the seed and plant industries are given the opportunity to comment on the drafts of Test Guidelines before their adoption, thus ensuring that the knowledge and experience of breeders and the seed and plant industries is taken into account. Once developed, the Test Guidelines are submitted for approval by the Technical Committee. The list of individual Test Guidelines adopted by UPOV and information on how to obtain copies of adopted Test Guidelines in electronic form can be found in document TGP/2, "List of Test Guidelines Adopted by UPOV" (Adobe PDF). 

1.5 The General Introduction seeks to address all aspects of DUS testing, in addition to providing guidance on the development of Test Guidelines, and is the replacement for document TG/1/2, "Revised General Introduction to the Guidelines for the Conduct of Tests for Distinctness, Homogeneity and Stability of New Varieties of Plants," which, as the title suggests, has served as the introduction to Test Guidelines.

1.6 Although the Test Guidelines provide detailed practical guidance on certain aspects of the examination of DUS and identify appropriate characteristics for variety description, there are certain general aspects that apply across all Test Guidelines which it would not be appropriate to reproduce in all the individual Test Guidelines.

1.7 Another situation in which a DUS examiner would use the basic principles contained in the General Introduction, rather than following the detailed recommendations of the Test Guidelines, is where the circumstances of the DUS examination determine that the recommended approach may not be the most appropriate for a particular set of conditions. In these or other circumstances where the Test Guidelines are not followed, the DUS examiner should consider how to proceed in a way that maintains, as far as possible, harmonization in DUS examination and variety description for that species.

1.8 In addition, the absence of Test Guidelines for the species or variety grouping concerned will obviously lead the DUS examiner to resort to the General Introduction, and there is a specific chapter (Chapter 9, "Conduct of DUS Testing in the Absence of Test Guidelines") in the document for such an eventuality.

1.9 In conclusion, it is important for any DUS examiner to be familiar with the principles of DUS examination set out in the General Introduction, and to consider them in conjunction with the appropriate individual Test Guidelines.

2. Composition of Test Guidelines

(See General Introduction, Chapter 8 (Adobe PDF))

2.1 Coverage of Individual Test Guidelines

In most cases, individual Test Guidelines are prepared for each species although, in some cases, it may be appropriate to prepare Test Guidelines covering a wider or narrower grouping of varieties. Different groups of varieties within a species can be dealt with in separate or subdivided Test Guidelines if the categories can be reliably separated on the basis of characteristics suitable for distinctness, or where an appropriate procedure has been developed to ensure that all varieties of common knowledge will be adequately considered for distinctness (see also General Introduction, Chapter 5, section 5.3.1). Where appropriate, such procedures are explained in document TGP/9, "Examining Distinctness."

2.2 Development of Test Guidelines

2.2.1 The individual Test Guidelines are prepared or, where appropriate, revised according to the procedures set out in document TGP/7, "Development of Test Guidelines." Once prepared by the appropriate Technical Working Party for the species concerned, a draft is sent for comments to the relevant international professional organizations and institutions working in the field of the species concerned. On the basis of the comments received, the draft Test Guidelines are finalized by the Technical Working Party concerned and presented to the UPOV Technical Committee for final adoption and publication.

2.2.2 Document TGP/2, "List of Test Guidelines Adopted by UPOV,"  contains a list of all Test Guidelines adopted by UPOV.

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