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P.L. 91-577 (December 24, 1970) was enacted to provide patent-like protection for new non-hybrid seed varieties. The ultimate goal was to create an incentive for public and private research on new commercial plant varieties by making it possible for scientists to benefit financially from developing them. The Plant Variety Protection Act (PVPA) Amendments of 1994 ( P.L. 103-349, October 6, 1994) made the law consistent with the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) of March 19, 1991, to which the United States is a signatory. In February 1999, the 1994 PVPA amendments formally were accepted by UPOV as being in conformance with the International Convention. USDA rather than the Patent and Trademark Office administers the law.

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