Last week, I attended the 2008 CIOPORA conference and AGM held just outside Geneva, Switzerland. CIOPORA is the international community of breeders of asexually reproduced ornamental and fruit varieties and has over 130 members from all over the world, consisting of breeders of new plant varieties, their agents and lawyers, as well as representatives from grower associations.

From a personal point of view, it was an affirming experience to be in a conference facility with more than sixty like-minded people, albeit I was the only member to attend from the UK (I’m grateful that English is the official language of CIOPORA!). It reinforced my long-held opinion that plant breeders are genuinely friendly people who are passionate about what they do. Even the lawyers aren’t too bad!

CIOPORA concentrates its efforts on the legal aspects of plant breeding, in particular Plant Variety Rights, Plant Patents and trademarks. There was a vigorous debate on the subject of Essentially Derived Varieties (which always sounds like a dense and unexciting subject but is certainly capable of arousing the passions in CIOPORA members!) and an extended discussion on anti-infringement actions taken by members jointly under the CIOPORA umbrella. In addition, there were interesting presentations on points of law, new genetic techniques and practices in the Plant Variety Rights industry.

Membership of CIOPORA should be an essential activity for anyone serious about breeding new plant varieties and commercially exploiting their work. Details of membership can be found at the CIOPORA website. Clients of PFE should also look out for a new opportunity coming soon to show your support for this organisation which works to protect the legitimate interests of breeders and licensees alike.