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Japan considers government body for protecting plant varieties

The Japanese government is considering taking tougher measures to protect high-end fruits and other farm products developed in the country. Its Agriculture Ministry is considering setting up a body to maintain and protect the intellectual property of domestic developers of new plant varieties.

Officials say they are looking to work on behalf of the companies to monitor piracy and other illegal activities. They also plan to serve as a go-between to make sure the developers receive licensing fees for their new varieties.

The problem was underscored by the discovery of Shine Muscat, a high-quality grape that suddenly was being grown in China. The fruit was developed by a Japanese research institute. Ministry officials estimate that China owes roughly 80 million dollars or more annually in license fees for the fruit.


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