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PBR - a Licence to Print Money

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PBR - a Licence to Print Money

Post by Admin on 8th June 2011, 20:44

As people may know, breeding roses has given me an interest in PBR issues. Naturally, if I ever breed something really good I'd like it to be covered so that I am rightly reimbursed for the time and effort required to bring just one variety to fruition. My current program goes through some 2000-3000 seedlings each year and of them I might keep only 10 after a year. However, I digress. My digging has lead me to uncover something a little disturbing and the more I look the more common practise it seems to be. The PBR symbol looks like this: PBR If you see this symbol you will immediately assume the plant is covered by some form of plant breeders rights and so cannot be propagated, legally, if you are not the orginal title holder. Brand recognition is such that as soon as you see this symbol, whether it be on a plant label or on a glossy catalogue, you immeidately recognise this as being under some form of protection. You are not likely to ask questions unless you are thinking about growing a few to offset your rose addiction expenses.

Here's a few little facts about PBR patents and how they are used.

1. A PBR lasts for 20 years. Once this period expires, so does the PBR. PBR cannot be renewed. It is therefore interesting to notice two prominent rose nurseries listing David Austin's 'Heritage' with the PBR symbol after it when the PBR was lodged in 1990, and granted in 1994 and the IPAustralia's PBR database says the PBR has expired. With one of these nurseries the cost difference between a PBR rose and a non-PBR rose is $5.

2. A PBR costs a fair bit to obtain and maintain. It is common practice for a nursery to obtain a PBR for a rose that is new and then withdraw it after sales begin to drop because it is no longer viable for them to keep it going.

3. You can search the IPAustralia, PBR database here: [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] . Where it says variety, insert the rose's registered name. Not the common trade name but the registered variety name. If we stick with David Austin's 'Heritage' as an exmaple its trade name, or synonym, is 'Heritage', however, its ICRA registered variety name, and name on the PBR, is 'Ausblush'. If you enter 'Ausblush' into the PBR database in the variety field you will see that its PBR has in fact expired. If you are looking for the registered variety name, pop along to [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] and do a search for the variety by its trade name and you will find its ICRA-Roses registered variety name as well. Always search the PBR database using the registered variety name because the marketting name may change from place to place.

So what right?

Well... I've been going through two of the major mailorder rose supplier's catalogues and have noticed that they seem to be using the PBR symbol 'a little liberally', listing roses as having a PBR when in fact their PBR has expired, has been withdrawn, or it never had one to begin with. Some places can't even agree as to what the correct terminology to use is. One place lists the rose 'Firefighter' ('Oradal') as having a PBR and it has never had one (though PBR can take some time to be granted and so they may not be shown yet... in any case just because they've applied for one it doesn't mean that it will be granted and displaying it as such should not occur until such time it is granted... it might always be refused), and the other place shows the name 'Firefighter' to be a registered trademark... when it isn't. There is an online trademark search too that can be found here: [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] . If you enter the name 'Firefighter' into the first field (as one word) you come up with firefighting gear and a herbicide. What makes 'Firefighter's case even more interesting is that HMF shows it as being introduced to Australia by Swanes, which would logically make them the holder of the PBR and it is not even Swanes that is listing it as a PBR rose which means the others would be propagating it illegally if it did have one Loopy . Unless of course it is possible for the title holder to assign multiple legal propagators... I don't know yet.

The thing that gets me is that the PBR roses are more expensive than the non-PBR roses in many cases. To be fair it isn't always as clear cut as PBR vs non-PBR but this pattern does follow through in most cases. In some cases the nurseries seem to have a clear (but unstated) pricing policy of listing PBR roses for one amount and a non-PBR rose for a lesser amount. One might ask why we are paying extra for roses that are listed as having an active PBR when in fact they don't? The difference is only a couple of dollars and so might not make such a big difference to us... but let's turn it around and see what it's worth to the nurseries. U.S. breeder Ping Lim tells me that the Australian rose market turns over something like 4 million roses each year across the country. If a large percentage of these were charged at an extra $2-5 more than they were worth, under their conventional pricing scheme, I'd say that would be worth a pretty penny to them. It is a worry to me in other ways too that I can't go into here.

It is easy to check whether a rose has an active PBR or not. Next time you buy a rose that is listed as having a PBR when it doesn't... ask them... why am I paying the PBR price??? My $2 is better of in my pocket than their pockets.

EDIT 12th July, 2011: Something else has come up that I was not aware of... maybe it's not the nurseries at all but the original holders of these rights using 'bully tactics' to scare nurseries into not asking questions... Thing is, we need more Australian breeders to circumvent the need to bring these roses into the country in the first place.


Last edited by Simon on 29th October 2011, 15:53; edited 8 times in total (Reason for editing : Correcting some terms used throughout.)

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Re: PBR - a Licence to Print Money

Post by Meryl on 8th June 2011, 21:21

Excellent work, Simon! Let's hope the word spreads. Once the scam is widely known, the perpetrators will have to stop.

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Re: PBR - a Licence to Print Money

Post by Balinbear on 8th June 2011, 21:39

Yes interesting. I allways wondered why some of the older DAs did not have the symbol anymore.

I do remember someone trying to pull it on 19th Centry teas once until they were told that the patent was long expired.
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Re: PBR - a Licence to Print Money

Post by AutumnDamask on 8th June 2011, 23:09

Very interesting.
And being newly enlightened, I noticed this evening - while looking for a particular climbing rose on a particular website - that nearly every single climber listed (including old ones like Albertine !!!) are listed as PBR.... Shocked

Hmmmmm......
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AutumnDamask

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Re: PBR - a Licence to Print Money

Post by The Lazy Rosarian on 9th June 2011, 06:33

Ok, read all of this and have been through this discussion before.
When does the PBR start, at the time of lodgement or granted date, if it is lodgement date 'Heritage' is out of life, it is granted date, it will run out in 2013 scratch
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The Lazy Rosarian

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Re: PBR - a Licence to Print Money

Post by sonya on 9th June 2011, 06:54

Thanks for the interesting information. I had noticed ***** have something listed as registered yet ***** only had it under new realese.

EDIT: Let's keep names out of it Wink
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Re: PBR - a Licence to Print Money

Post by Admin on 9th June 2011, 10:19

Maybe this has been discussed before (kinda.. but not really... I know one PBR discussion tends to sound like another though and it all ends up circular), but I'm a little affraid at the extent of it.

'Heritage's PBR has expired already and the expiry date is based on the date that it was accepted, not when it was granted. In the case of 'Ausblush' it was accepted 30-Apr-1990 which means it expired in 2010.


Last edited by Simon on 9th June 2011, 13:27; edited 1 time in total

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Re: PBR - a Licence to Print Money

Post by The Lazy Rosarian on 9th June 2011, 12:51

Simon, will you email me the 2 nurseries that you speak of please.
In the application part of PBR it lists, received, accepted, granted. So I guess the word of lodgement you used referred to accepted, which means that is the start of PBR, not the date which the aplication was received.
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Re: PBR - a Licence to Print Money

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