ASIAN SEED • 20 Intellectual Property Rights – and protection thereof – was identified by the WIC as its priority. APSA past-president, Mr. Manas Chiaravanond (CEO, Chia Tai) summed it up in metaphor: “The other topics we talk about here are the ‘cream’, but this one – Intellectual Property Rights – is the cake.” Setting the stage for lively discussion was a presentation on IPR glob- al trends and models, by APSA Executive Commit- tee member Mr. Casper van Kempen. Mr. van Kempen, Managing Director of the EU-based Anti−Infringe- ment Bureau or AIB, ad- mitted that the concept of Intellectual Property is relatively new to the seed industry, especially in Asia, likening it to an “ex- perimental path”. “We are in the busi- ness of Intellectual Prop- erty – we sell IP, which enables us to protect our investments. Without pro- tection there is no eco- nomic incentive to invest in innovation to create new varieties.” He then distinguished the different types of IP with which the seed in- dustry is concerned: “Plant Variety Pro- tection is the main type of IP we deal with in the vegetable sector, but there are others: patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets are all growing in importance for stakeholders in our industry.” He added that in Asia, only five countries – China, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Vietnam – are currently members of UPOV, the international governing body for PVP. “But this doesn’t mean that PVP doesn’t exist in the other Asian countries. Most of the countries have national PVP laws in place, which are often, in structure, quite similar to UPOV principles,” he said. Mr. van Kempen con- tinued by describing chal- lenges and trends related to IPR and PVP for the vegetable seed industry in Asia, along with their ben- efits, emphasizing that IP protection can only be ef- fective with enforcement. Without enforcement IP protection has little to no use. He concluded by introducing the work and models of his own orga- nization, AIB, as well as its sister organization in North America, the Seed Innovation and Protec- tion Alliance (or SIPA) to create IP awareness for the vegetable seed sec- tor and to assist member companies to enforce their IP rights. The forma- tion of a similar organiza- tion focused on Asia was pitched to the meeting, who welcomed the idea. By way of example, Dr. Sayoc explained that in the Philippines seed law is too narrowly de- fined to afford sufficient IP protection. Said she: “It only refers to infected seed lots. There is no mention of mislabeling, seed piracy or theft of pa- rental materials, for exam- ple. Penalties for violation are not severe enough to deter violators.” WIC participants from across the region echoed her point. Liu Wei, head of Marketing and Sales APAC at Nunhems BV, thinks all integrated seed companies must fight together against IP in- fringement: “It is too dif- ficult for one company to solve,” he said. “In Asia, this issue is more serious, as...people do not have much knowledge regard- ing IP rights. They feel it does not matter if they steal some parent-lines or know-how.” The answer, he posits, will come with education, more robust legal enforcement, and penalties severe enough to discourage piracy. Michel Devarrewaere, VP East-West Seed Inter- national Ltd, underlined a The Midterms provided both formal and informal opportunities for delegates to discuss important industry issues.