The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that the Plant Variety Protection Office (PVPO) is going green. For 40 years, the PVPO has done its business using paper. Many of the office’s daily functions, including processing applications for Certificates of Protection, rely on using paper. The PVPO is going paperless to reduce costs and streamline its workflow.
“Working with electronic documents will allow the office to speed up its efficiency and be more flexible,” said Administrator Rayne Pegg, Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). “Staff will be able to perform their essential tasks from anywhere in the world.”
The beginning step for moving to a paperless system is to scan all of the paper documents that the office has accumulated. To date, nearly 80 percent of all application and certificate files have been scanned. Those that have been issued a Certificate of Protection are available on the PVPO's website. As new applications and correspondence are received, they also are being scanned to make them available to the examining staff. A fully electronic online filing process is not yet available, but applicants may submit their application documents by email. With credit card payment and direct deposit availability, both of which have been authorized since 2005, applicants no longer need to send any paper documents to the PVPO.
Previously, Certificates of Protection were done on paper that was bound inside of a cover with a copy of the signed cover kept with the rest of the paper. The new certificate will have a different look. The application documents will not be copied and bound inside of the cover with grommets and green ribbon. Instead, the issued certificate will be a single sheet of paper that is signed by the Secretary of Agriculture and the PVPO commissioner. The former style of certificate will be available for an additional fee.
AMS administers the Plant Variety Protection Act, which provides time limited marketing protection to developers of new plant varieties ranging from farm crops to flowers which are reproduced by seeds or tubers. For additional information about the Plant Variety Protection Act, contact the Plant Variety Protection Office by calling (301) 504-5518, faxing (301) 504-5291, e-mailing PVPOmail@usda.gov, or visiting www.ams.usda.gov/PVPO.