IPR in Agriculture


Intellectual property rights (IPRs) are the legal rights given for creative or inventive ideas. There are various IPRs that are relevant to agriculture and can be used to protect goods or services produced in the agricultural sector. They provide strong protection for patentable plants and animals and biotechnological processes for their production.

As per the report, the Agricultural machinery industry in India in 2018 was valued at Rs. 908 billion and has enormous growth and development capabilities. Agriculturists and farmers are benefitted from the demand for agriculture machinery as it has created more farm production and loan facilities.

Forms of IP protection in agriculture:

The Indian Patent Act 1970 and its amendments have granted patent rights for agricultural tools and machinery, and the process of development of agricultural chemicals. In India, the Sui generis system was developed for the protection of plants, where the rights of breeders and farmers were protected. In response to these developments, favourable legal conditions have been created for global biotechnology research and development associations. The Plant Breeders and Farmers Right Act, 2001 was enacted to grant intellectual property rights to anyone who develops a new or improved plant species.

Essentially Derived Varieties (EDVs) can also be registered under this Act, whether they are new or extant. The rights granted are hereditable and assignable and only registration of a plant variety confers them. Any farmer can save, use, sow, re-sow, exchange, or sell their farm produce including seeds of a registered variety in an unbranded manner. Any plant breeder or researcher can use a registered variety to conduct experiments, research, or as a source of a genetic material (parent) for the purpose of developing another variety. So long as the protected variety isn't used as a parent repeatedly for the production of commercial seed, which requires the prior consent of the original breeder/farmer.

Trade secret: The agricultural sector can use trade secret protection to protect hybrid plants. Trade secrets can also be protected against unauthorized third-party use through laws relating to unfair competition, restrictive trade practices, and contract law. The advantage of this system, unlike patents, is that inventive and creative ideas are not required to be disclosed to society. Trademarks can be applied to both agricultural and industrial goods. For example, trademarks can be used to market seeds and for spraying services.

A geographical indication (GI) is a class of trademarks more frequently used in agriculture than in other sectors. These are marks associated with goods with characteristics related to a nation, region, or locality. One advantage of such protection is that it is not time-limited, unlike plant patents and plant breeder's rights. Famous instances of this are: ‘Darjeeling tea’, ‘ Ratnagiri for mangoes’, ‘Tasgaon, grapes’, etc. These plant species created with traditional knowledge and linked to a specific region can also be regarded as GI in the interest of not being protected for a period of time as is the state in plant patents or the rights of plant breeders.


The traditional agricultural IPRs are related to patents, especially on biotechnological innovations, rights of farmers, trademarks, and geographical indication. Trade secrets are now also considered a component of IPRs, and these are also applicable to the agricultural sector. The government needs to amend the laws and must consider the wider group of interest. Patents are the most important IPR today for agricultural goods and services as they provide, as they provide the strongest protection for patentable plants and animals and biotechnological processes for their production. Patents globally give the patentee the right to prevent third parties from making, using or selling the patented product or process. Since the government of India wants to encourage investment by private seed companies, as clear from its policies since the mid-80s, plant breeders' rights would definitely help in giving incentives for private research.