Plant Variety Protection Office, Fee Increase, 54609-54612 [05-18511]

Download as PDF 54609 Rules and Regulations Federal Register Vol. 70, No. 179 Friday, September 16, 2005 This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains regulatory documents having general applicability and legal effect, most of which are keyed to and codified in the Code of Federal Regulations, which is published under 50 titles pursuant to 44 U.S.C. 1510. The Code of Federal Regulations is sold by the Superintendent of Documents. Prices of new books are listed in the first FEDERAL REGISTER issue of each week. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Agricultural Marketing Service 7 CFR Part 97 [Doc. No. ST–05–02] RIN 0581–AC42 Plant Variety Protection Office, Fee Increase Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA. ACTION: Final rule. AGENCY: SUMMARY: The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is increasing Plant Variety Protection (PVP) Office application, search, and certificate issuance fees by 20 percent. The last general fee increase in February 2003 is no longer adequate to cover current program obligations for administrative and information technology needs. The PVP Act of 1970 requires that reasonable fees be collected from applicants seeking certificates of protection in order to maintain the program. Also, a technical amendment will allow applicants to send voucher seed samples directly to the public repository. EFFECTIVE DATE: October 17, 2005. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Janice M. Strachan, USDA, AMS, Science and Technology (S&T), PVP Office, NAL Building, Room 401, 10301 Baltimore Avenue, Beltsville, MD 20705–2351, telephone 301–504–5518, fax 301–504–5291, and e-mail Janice.Strachan@usda.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Executive Order 12866 This final rule has been determined to be not significant for the purposes of Executive Order 12866, and therefore, was not reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). VerDate Aug<31>2005 15:20 Sep 15, 2005 Jkt 205001 II. Regulatory Flexibility Act Pursuant to requirements set forth in the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.), the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has considered the economic impact of this action on small business entities. There are more than 800 users of the plant variety protection service, of whom about 100 may file applications in a given year. Some of these users are small business entities under the criteria established by the Small Business Administration (13 CFR 121.201). AMS has determined that this action would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of these small business entities. The PVP Office administers the PVP Act of 1970, as amended (7 U.S.C. 2321 et seq.), and issues Certificates of Protection that provide intellectual property rights to developers of new varieties of plants. A Certificate of Protection is awarded to an owner of a variety after examination indicates that it is new, distinct from other varieties, genetically uniform, and stable through successive generations. This action raises the fees charged to users of plant variety protection. AMS estimates that the rule will yield an additional $277,200 during fiscal year (FY) 2006. The cost to private and public business entities will be proportional to their use of the service, and shared equitably. The cost to individual users will increase by $816 per PVP Certificate issued or by 20 percent per application. PVP is a voluntary service. AMS regularly reviews its user fee financed programs to determine if fees are adequate. The most recent review determined that the existing fee schedule will not generate sufficient revenue to cover the program’s operating costs, depleting the trust fund reserve balance. From 1995 through 2005, federal salaries have increased 43 percent and inflation has increased the cost of supplies and services by 25 percent. The net effect on the PVP Office is an increase in overall expenses of 41 percent since 1995, offset by fee increases of 10 percent in September 2000 and 35 percent in February 2003. The income of the PVP Office is dependent mainly on the number of new applications filed, which fluctuated between 277 and 354 applications since FY 2000, while typical operating expenses remain fixed. During this PO 00000 Frm 00001 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 period, additional funding was needed for continued technological improvements and office relocation. In FY 2001 through FY 2004, expenses have exceeded income each year, despite earlier fee increases. Program operations were maintained by using the trust fund reserves, thus reducing those reserves. The PVP Office needs to adjust fees to provide adequate revenue for current program operations and to rebuild an adequate trust fund reserve. Without a fee increase, FY 2006 revenues are projected at $1,496,000; costs are projected at $1,614,720 for a loss of $118,720. The trust fund reserve would be inadequate to satisfy Agency policy and prudent financial management by the end of fiscal year 2007. AMS calculated the new fee schedule by projecting FY 2007 revenues of $1,496,000 and program obligations of $1,705,662. This indicates a projected loss to the program of $209,662 for FY 2007. Without a fee increase, the reserve balance at the end of FY 2007 is projected to drop to $756,796, which corresponds to 5 months of operating funds in the reserve balance. With a fee increase of 20 percent, FY 2007 revenues are projected to be $1,773,200 and the trust fund reserve balance is expected to be $1,867,018, which corresponds to 13 months of operating funds in the reserve balance. This level of trust fund maintenance satisfies Agency requirements. The final action also amends regulations related to the voucher seed sample. The voucher seed sample is a supplement to the Exhibit C description of the variety and is kept for the life of the certificate. Currently, seed samples are submitted to the PVP Office, which then ships the seed samples to the public repository at USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) facility in Ft. Collins, CO. The amendment permits voucher seed samples to be submitted directly to the public repository. A small seed sample (15–25 seeds), which may be needed for the examination of crops which have distinctive seed characteristics, may be required for some crops at the discretion of the examiner. Periodically, the germination rate of the voucher seed sample is tested to verify that it remains a viable sample for long-term storage. These tests use up the stored seed sample. A larger initial seed sample is E:\FR\FM\16SER1.SGM 16SER1 54610 Federal Register / Vol. 70, No. 179 / Friday, September 16, 2005 / Rules and Regulations needed to ensure that germination testing does not deplete the stored sample. A new section is added to give stakeholders guidance in how, when, and where to make the seed deposit. Because the PVP Office was handling the seed deposit, these regulations were deemed unnecessary in the past. Now that applicants will be depositing seeds themselves, they need additional guidance in how to package the seeds, where to send them, and when to deposit them in relation to the filing of a PVP applicant. This new section is based on similar regulatory language present in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Regulations (54 FR 34880, August 22, 1989, effective January 1, 1990). The patent-related text has been adapted to fit the specific circumstances of the PVP Office. III. Civil Justice Reform This rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, Civil Justice Reform. This action is not intended to have retroactive effect, nor will it preempt any state or local laws, regulations, or policies, unless they present an irreconcilable conflict with the proposed rule. There are no administrative procedures that must be exhausted prior to any judicial challenge to the provisions of the rule. IV. Paperwork Reduction Act This rule does not contain any information collection or record keeping requirements that are subject to the Office of Management and Budget approval under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. Chapter 35). Background Information The PVP Program is a voluntary, user fee-funded service, conducted under the Authority of the Plant Variety Protection Act (7 U.S.C. 2321 et seq.). The Act authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture to provide intellectual property rights that facilitate marketing of new varieties of seed-propagated crops and tubers. The Act also requires that reasonable fees be collected from the users of the services to cover the costs of maintaining the program. In January 2003, AMS published a rule in the Federal Register (60 FR 17188) that increased Plant Variety Protection Office fees and that became effective February 2003. In February 2004, the AMS Budget Office performed a fee analysis that indicated the need to increase the program fee schedule in order to recover the administrative and information technology costs and maintain an VerDate Aug<31>2005 15:20 Sep 15, 2005 Jkt 205001 adequate program reserve balance. For FY 2006, user fee revenues and program obligations are projected to be $1,496,000 and $1,614,720, respectively, resulting in an estimated $118,720 program deficit. AMS estimates that this final rule will yield an additional $227,100 during FY 2006 that will offset increased program operating costs. With a fee increase, FY 2007 revenues and expenditures are projected to be $1,773,200 and $1,705,662, respectively. AMS used the fees currently charged as a base for calculating the new fee schedule for FY 2006. The fees set forth in Sec. 97.175 as of February 2003 are increased. The supplemental fees that were established in May 2005 will not be increased, including the $250.00 portion of the allowance and issuance fee that was implemented to recover the costs of improving the PVP program’s electronic archiving capabilities. The application fee is increased from $432 to $518, the search fee from $3,220 to $3,864, and the original issuance fee from $432 to $518. The fees for reviving an abandoned application, correcting or re-issuance of a certificate are increased from $432 to $518. The charge for granting an extension for responding to a request is increased from $74 to $89. The hourly charge for any other service not specified is increased from $89 to $107. The fee for appeal to the Secretary (refundable if appeal overturns the Commissioner’s decision) is increased from $4,118 to $4,942. Reproduction of records, drawings, certificates, exhibits or printed materials, late payment, and late replenishment of seeds is increased by 20 percent. These fee increases are necessary to recover the costs of this feefunded program. At the March 2003 annual meeting, the Plant Variety Protection Advisory Board was informed of the anticipated FY 2005 cost increases for maintaining program operations and administration. We also consulted with the Board regarding potential increases to the basic fee schedule for FY 2006. They recommended that fees be increased. This rule makes the minimum changes in the regulations to implement the recommended increased fees to maintain the program as a fee-funded program. The Plant Variety Protection Board recommended that internal processes related to the handling of seed samples be streamlined. Section 97.6(d) was recently amended to provide that cell cultures for tuber-reproduced varieties need not be deposited until after the examination has been completed, rather than at the time the application is filed. A similar change was made for the establishment of plots of vegetative PO 00000 Frm 00002 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 material for self-incompatible parents of hybrids. The requirement that 2,500 seeds of the basic variety must be submitted will the application was modified to allow waivers of this requirement. This final rule will further simplify this process by applying the same requirements to seeds and allowing the applicant to submit a declaration that the seed sample will be deposited, rather than requiring that the sample be submitted with the application. This will increase efficiencies in the PVP Office by removing the necessity for the Office to routinely handle the samples and forward them to the ARS National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation (NCGRP) facility in Ft. Collins, Colorado. The NCGRP is the only public depository approved by the Commissioner at the present time. We also require that a larger initial seed sample be deposited to ensure that germination testing does not deplete the stored sample. We have added of Section 97.7, which provides guidance to applicants in how, when, and where to deposit their voucher seed samples. Summary of Public Comment A notice of the proposed rule was published in the Federal Register (70 FR 40921) on July 15, 2005. A 30-day comment period was provided to allow interested persons the opportunity to respond to the proposal, including any regulatory and informational impact of this action on organizations considered to be small businesses. The comment period expired on August 15, 2005, and two comments were received on the proposed rule. One comment stated that a fee increase would be accepted if stakeholders could feel that the PVP Office conducts its business in a prompt and orderly fashion. Another comment indicated that the fee increase was insufficient to cover the full costs relating to what the commenter believed was a negative impact on the United States with regard to plants and seeds that are introduced into this country. As previously stated, the PVP Act of 1970 requires that reasonable fees be collected from applicants seeking certificates of protection in order to maintain the program. This fee increase will adjust fees to provide adequate revenue for current program operations and to rebuild an adequate trust fund reserve. With regard to the PVP Office conducting its business in a prompt and orderly fashion, the Office continues to improve the quality of its services. Accordingly, no change to the rule will be made as a result of the comments. E:\FR\FM\16SER1.SGM 16SER1 Federal Register / Vol. 70, No. 179 / Friday, September 16, 2005 / Rules and Regulations List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 97 Plants, seeds. I For reasons set forth in the preamble, 7 CFR part 97 is amended as follows. PART 97—PLANT VARIETY AND PROTECTION 1. The authority citation for part 97 continues to read as follows: I Authority: Plant Variety Protection Act, as amended, 7 U.S.C. 2321 et seq. 2. Section 97.6(d)(1) is revised to read as follows: I § 97. 6 Application for certificate. * * * * * (d) * * * (1) A declaration that at least 3,000 seeds of the viable basic seed required to reproduce the variety will be deposited in a public depository approved by the Commissioner and will be maintained for the duration of the certificate; or * * * * * I 3. Section 97.7 is added to read as follows: § 97.7 Deposit of Voucher Specimen. (a) Voucher specimen types. As regards the deposit of voucher specimen material for purposes of plant variety protection applications under 7 U.S.C. 2321 et seq., the term voucher specimen shall include material that is capable of self-replication either directly or indirectly. Representative examples include seeds, plant tissue cells, cell lines, and plots of vegetative material of self-incompatible parental lines of hybrids. Seed samples should not be treated with chemicals or coatings. (b) Need to make a deposit. Applications for plant variety protection require deposit of a voucher specimen of the variety. The deposit shall be acceptable if made in accordance with these regulations. Sample packages shall meet the packaging and deposit requirements of the depository. Samples and correspondence about samples shall be identified, minimally, by: (1) The application number assigned by the Office; (2) The crop kind, genus and species, and variety denomination; and (3) The name and address of the depositor. (c) Acceptable depository. A deposit shall be recognized for the purposes of these regulations if made in: (1) The National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation, ARS, USDA, 1111 South Mason Street, Fort Collins, CO 80521–4500, or (2) Any other depository recognized to be suitable by the Office. Suitability VerDate Aug<31>2005 15:20 Sep 15, 2005 Jkt 205001 will be determined by the Commissioner on the basis of the administrative and technical competence, and agreement of the depository to comply with the terms and conditions applicable to deposits for plant variety protection purposes. The Commissioner may seek the advice of impartial consultants on the suitability of a depository. The depository must: (i) Have a continuous existence; (ii) Exist independent of the control of the depositor; (iii) Possess the staff and facilities sufficient to examine the viability and quantity of a deposit, and store the deposit in a manner which ensures that it is kept viable and uncontaminated; (iv) Provide for sufficient safety measures to minimize the risk of losing biological material deposited with it; (v) Be impartial and objective; (vi) Refrain from distributing samples while the application is being examined and during the term of protection but, after control of the sample is transferred by the Office to the depository, furnish samples of the deposited material in an expeditious and proper manner; (vii) Have the capability to destroy samples or return samples to the Office when requested by the Office; and (viii) Promptly notify the Office of low viability or low quantity of the sample. (3) A depository seeking status under paragraph (c)(2) of this section must direct a communication to the Commissioner which shall: (i) Indicate the name and address of the depository to which the communication relates; (ii) Contain detailed information as to the capacity of the depository to comply with the requirements of paragraph (c)(2) of this section, including information on its legal status, scientific standing, staff, and facilities; (iii) Indicate that the depository intends to be available, for the purposes of deposit, to any depositor under these same conditions; (iv) Where the depository intends to accept for deposit only certain kinds of biological material, specify such kinds; and (v) Indicate the amount of any fees that the depository will, upon acquiring the status of suitable depository under paragraph (c)(2) of this section, charge for storage, viability statements and furnishings of samples of the deposit. (4) A depository having status under paragraph (c)(2) of this section limited to certain kinds of biological material may extend such status to additional kinds of biological material by directing a communication to the Commissioner PO 00000 Frm 00003 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 54611 in accordance with paragraph (c)(3) of this section. If a previous communication under paragraph (c)(3) of this section is of record, items in common with the previous communication may be incorporated by reference. (5) Once a depository is recognized to be suitable by the Commissioner or has defaulted or discontinued its performance under this section, notice thereof will be published in the Official Journal of the Plant Variety Protection Office or by other methods typically used for dissemination of information related to the procedures of the Office. (d) Time of making an original deposit. An original deposit of materials for seed-reproduced plants shall be made within three months of the filing date of the application or prior to issuance of the certificate, whichever occurs first. A waiver may be granted for good cause, such as delays in obtaining a phytosanitary certificate for the importation of voucher sample materials. When the original deposit is made, the applicant must promptly submit a statement from a person in a position to corroborate the fact, stating that the voucher specimen material which is deposited is the variety specifically identified in the application as filed. Such statement must be filed in the application and must contain the identifying information listed in paragraph (b) of this section and: (1) The name and address of the depository; (2) The date of deposit; (3) The accession number given by the depository; and (4) A statement that the deposit is capable of reproduction. (e) Replacement or supplement of deposit. If the depository possessing a deposit determines either that the sample viability is low or that the sample quantity is low, and if this finding is made during the pendency of an application or during the term of protection of the certificate, the Office shall notify the depositor of the need for making a replacement or supplemental deposit. Such deposits will be governed by the same considerations governing the need for making an original deposit under the provisions set forth in § 97.7(d). Notification to the Office concerning deposit of the replacement or supplemental sample shall contain a statement from a person in a position to corroborate the fact, stating that the replacement or supplemental deposit is of a biological material which is identical to that originally deposited. (f) Term of deposit. A voucher specimen deposit made in support of an application for plant variety protection E:\FR\FM\16SER1.SGM 16SER1 54612 Federal Register / Vol. 70, No. 179 / Friday, September 16, 2005 / Rules and Regulations shall be made for a term of at least twenty (20) years. In any case, samples must be stored under agreements that would make them available to the Office during the enforceable life of the certificate for which the deposit was made. (g) Viability of deposit. A deposit of biological material that is capable of self-replication either directly or indirectly must be viable at the time of deposit and during the term of deposit. Viability may be tested by the depository periodically. The test must conclude only that the deposited material is capable of reproduction. No evidence necessarily is required regarding the ability of the deposited material to perform any function described in the application. If a viability test indicates that the deposit is not viable upon receipt or that the quantity of material is insufficient, the examiner shall proceed as if no deposit was made. The examiner will accept the conclusion set forth in a viability statement issued by a depository recognized under paragraph 97.7(c). (h) Furnishing of samples. A deposit must be made under conditions that assure that: (1) Public access to the deposit will not be available during pendency of the application or during the term of protection, and (2) All restrictions on the availability to the public of the deposited material will be irrevocably removed upon the abandonment, cancellation, expiration, or withdrawal of the certificate. (i) Examination procedures. The examiner shall determine, prior to issuance of the certificate, in each application if a voucher sample deposit actually made is acceptable for plant variety protection purposes. I 4. Section 97.175 is revised to read as follows: (h) Correcting or re-issuance of a certificate—$518.00. (i) Recording an assignment, any revision of an assignment, or withdrawal or revocation of an assignment (per certificate or application)—$41.00. (j) Copies of 8 x 10 photographs in color—$41.00. (k) Additional fee for reconsideration—$518.00. (l) Additional fee for late payment— $41.00. (m) Fee for handling replenishment seed sample (applicable only for certificates issued after June 20, 2005)— $38.00. (n) Additional fee for late replenishment of seed—$41.00. (o) Filing a petition for protest proceeding—$4,118.00. (p) Appeal to Secretary (refundable if appeal overturns the Commissioner’s decision)—$4,942.00. (q) Granting of extensions for responding to a request—$89.00. (r) Field inspections by a representative of the Plant Variety Protection Office, made at the request of the applicant, shall be reimbursable in full (including travel, per diem or subsistence, and salary) in accordance with Standardized Government Travel Regulation. (s) Any other service not covered above will be charged for at rates prescribed by the Commissioner, but in no event shall they exceed $107.00 per employee-hour. Charges also will be made for materials, space, and administrative costs. § 97.175 DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Fees and charges. The following fees and charges apply to the services and actions specified below: (a) Filing the application and notifying the public of filing—$518.00. (b) Search or examination—$3,864.00. (c) Submission of new application data, after notice of allowance, prior to issuance of certificate—$432.00. (d) Allowance and issuance of certificate and notifying public of issuance—$768.00. (e) Revive an abandoned application—$518.00. (f) Reproduction of records, drawings, certificates, exhibits, or printed material (cost per page of material)—$1.80. (g) Authentication (each page)—$1.80. VerDate Aug<31>2005 15:20 Sep 15, 2005 Jkt 205001 Dated: September 13, 2005. Kenneth C. Clayton, Acting Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service. [FR Doc. 05–18511 Filed 9–15–05; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410–02–P Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 39 [Docket No. FAA–2005–20364; Directorate Identifier 2004–NM–186–AD; Amendment 39–14274; AD 2005–19–09] RIN 2120–AA64 Airworthiness Directives; Boeing Model 747 Airplanes Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Department of Transportation (DOT). ACTION: Final rule. AGENCY: SUMMARY: The FAA is adopting a new airworthiness directive (AD) for certain PO 00000 Frm 00004 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 Boeing Model 747 airplanes. This AD requires repetitive inspections of the dual side braces (DSBs), underwing midspar fittings, and associated parts; other specified actions; and corrective actions if necessary. This AD also provides an optional terminating action for the inspections and other specified actions. This AD is prompted by reports of corroded, migrated, and rotated bearings for the DSBs in the inboard and outboard struts, a report of a fractured retainer for the eccentric bushing for one of the side links of a DSB, and reports of wear and damage to the underwing midspar fitting on the outboard strut. We are issuing this AD to prevent the loss of a DSB or underwing midspar fitting load path, which could result in the transfer of loads and motion to other areas of a strut, and possible separation of a strut and engine from the airplane during flight. DATES: This AD becomes effective October 21, 2005. The incorporation by reference of a certain publication listed in the AD is approved by the Director of the Federal Register as of October 21, 2005. ADDRESSES: For service information identified in this AD, contact Boeing Commercial Airplanes, P.O. Box 3707, Seattle, Washington 98124–2207. Docket: The AD docket contains the proposed AD, comments, and any final disposition. You can examine the AD docket on the Internet at http:// dms.dot.gov, or in person at the Docket Management Facility office between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The Docket Management Facility office (telephone (800) 647–5227) is located on the plaza level of the Nassif Building at the U.S. Department of Transportation, 400 Seventh Street SW., room PL–401, Washington, DC. This docket number is FAA–2005–20364; the directorate identifier for this docket is 2004–NM– 186–AD. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ivan Li, Aerospace Engineer, Airframe Branch, ANM–120S, FAA, Seattle Aircraft Certification Office, 1601 Lind Avenue, SW., Renton, Washington 98055–4056; telephone (425) 917–6437; fax (425) 917–6590. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The FAA proposed to amend 14 CFR part 39 with an AD for certain Boeing Model 747 airplanes. That action, published in the Federal Register on February 14, 2005 (70 FR 7446), proposed to require repetitive inspections of the dual side braces (DSBs), underwing midspar fittings, and associated parts; other specified actions; and corrective actions E:\FR\FM\16SER1.SGM 16SER1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 70, Number 179 (Friday, September 16, 2005)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 54609-54612]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 05-18511]



========================================================================
Rules and Regulations
                                                Federal Register
________________________________________________________________________

This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains regulatory documents 
having general applicability and legal effect, most of which are keyed 
to and codified in the Code of Federal Regulations, which is published 
under 50 titles pursuant to 44 U.S.C. 1510.

The Code of Federal Regulations is sold by the Superintendent of Documents. 
Prices of new books are listed in the first FEDERAL REGISTER issue of each 
week.

========================================================================


Federal Register / Vol. 70, No. 179 / Friday, September 16, 2005 / 
Rules and Regulations

[[Page 54609]]



DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Agricultural Marketing Service

7 CFR Part 97

[Doc. No. ST-05-02]
RIN 0581-AC42


Plant Variety Protection Office, Fee Increase

AGENCY: Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.

ACTION: Final rule.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is increasing Plant 
Variety Protection (PVP) Office application, search, and certificate 
issuance fees by 20 percent. The last general fee increase in February 
2003 is no longer adequate to cover current program obligations for 
administrative and information technology needs. The PVP Act of 1970 
requires that reasonable fees be collected from applicants seeking 
certificates of protection in order to maintain the program. Also, a 
technical amendment will allow applicants to send voucher seed samples 
directly to the public repository.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 17, 2005.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Janice M. Strachan, USDA, AMS, Science 
and Technology (S&T), PVP Office, NAL Building, Room 401, 10301 
Baltimore Avenue, Beltsville, MD 20705-2351, telephone 301-504-5518, 
fax 301-504-5291, and e-mail Janice.Strachan@usda.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

I. Executive Order 12866

    This final rule has been determined to be not significant for the 
purposes of Executive Order 12866, and therefore, was not reviewed by 
the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

II. Regulatory Flexibility Act

    Pursuant to requirements set forth in the Regulatory Flexibility 
Act (RFA) (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.), the Agricultural Marketing Service 
(AMS) has considered the economic impact of this action on small 
business entities. There are more than 800 users of the plant variety 
protection service, of whom about 100 may file applications in a given 
year. Some of these users are small business entities under the 
criteria established by the Small Business Administration (13 CFR 
121.201). AMS has determined that this action would not have a 
significant economic impact on a substantial number of these small 
business entities.
    The PVP Office administers the PVP Act of 1970, as amended (7 
U.S.C. 2321 et seq.), and issues Certificates of Protection that 
provide intellectual property rights to developers of new varieties of 
plants. A Certificate of Protection is awarded to an owner of a variety 
after examination indicates that it is new, distinct from other 
varieties, genetically uniform, and stable through successive 
generations. This action raises the fees charged to users of plant 
variety protection. AMS estimates that the rule will yield an 
additional $277,200 during fiscal year (FY) 2006. The cost to private 
and public business entities will be proportional to their use of the 
service, and shared equitably. The cost to individual users will 
increase by $816 per PVP Certificate issued or by 20 percent per 
application. PVP is a voluntary service.
    AMS regularly reviews its user fee financed programs to determine 
if fees are adequate. The most recent review determined that the 
existing fee schedule will not generate sufficient revenue to cover the 
program's operating costs, depleting the trust fund reserve balance. 
From 1995 through 2005, federal salaries have increased 43 percent and 
inflation has increased the cost of supplies and services by 25 
percent. The net effect on the PVP Office is an increase in overall 
expenses of 41 percent since 1995, offset by fee increases of 10 
percent in September 2000 and 35 percent in February 2003. The income 
of the PVP Office is dependent mainly on the number of new applications 
filed, which fluctuated between 277 and 354 applications since FY 2000, 
while typical operating expenses remain fixed. During this period, 
additional funding was needed for continued technological improvements 
and office relocation. In FY 2001 through FY 2004, expenses have 
exceeded income each year, despite earlier fee increases. Program 
operations were maintained by using the trust fund reserves, thus 
reducing those reserves. The PVP Office needs to adjust fees to provide 
adequate revenue for current program operations and to rebuild an 
adequate trust fund reserve. Without a fee increase, FY 2006 revenues 
are projected at $1,496,000; costs are projected at $1,614,720 for a 
loss of $118,720. The trust fund reserve would be inadequate to satisfy 
Agency policy and prudent financial management by the end of fiscal 
year 2007.
    AMS calculated the new fee schedule by projecting FY 2007 revenues 
of $1,496,000 and program obligations of $1,705,662. This indicates a 
projected loss to the program of $209,662 for FY 2007. Without a fee 
increase, the reserve balance at the end of FY 2007 is projected to 
drop to $756,796, which corresponds to 5 months of operating funds in 
the reserve balance. With a fee increase of 20 percent, FY 2007 
revenues are projected to be $1,773,200 and the trust fund reserve 
balance is expected to be $1,867,018, which corresponds to 13 months of 
operating funds in the reserve balance. This level of trust fund 
maintenance satisfies Agency requirements.
    The final action also amends regulations related to the voucher 
seed sample. The voucher seed sample is a supplement to the Exhibit C 
description of the variety and is kept for the life of the certificate. 
Currently, seed samples are submitted to the PVP Office, which then 
ships the seed samples to the public repository at USDA's Agricultural 
Research Service (ARS) facility in Ft. Collins, CO. The amendment 
permits voucher seed samples to be submitted directly to the public 
repository. A small seed sample (15-25 seeds), which may be needed for 
the examination of crops which have distinctive seed characteristics, 
may be required for some crops at the discretion of the examiner. 
Periodically, the germination rate of the voucher seed sample is tested 
to verify that it remains a viable sample for long-term storage. These 
tests use up the stored seed sample. A larger initial seed sample is

[[Page 54610]]

needed to ensure that germination testing does not deplete the stored 
sample.
    A new section is added to give stakeholders guidance in how, when, 
and where to make the seed deposit. Because the PVP Office was handling 
the seed deposit, these regulations were deemed unnecessary in the 
past. Now that applicants will be depositing seeds themselves, they 
need additional guidance in how to package the seeds, where to send 
them, and when to deposit them in relation to the filing of a PVP 
applicant. This new section is based on similar regulatory language 
present in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Regulations (54 FR 34880, 
August 22, 1989, effective January 1, 1990). The patent-related text 
has been adapted to fit the specific circumstances of the PVP Office.

III. Civil Justice Reform

    This rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, Civil 
Justice Reform. This action is not intended to have retroactive effect, 
nor will it preempt any state or local laws, regulations, or policies, 
unless they present an irreconcilable conflict with the proposed rule. 
There are no administrative procedures that must be exhausted prior to 
any judicial challenge to the provisions of the rule.

IV. Paperwork Reduction Act

    This rule does not contain any information collection or record 
keeping requirements that are subject to the Office of Management and 
Budget approval under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 
Chapter 35).

Background Information

    The PVP Program is a voluntary, user fee-funded service, conducted 
under the Authority of the Plant Variety Protection Act (7 U.S.C. 2321 
et seq.). The Act authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture to provide 
intellectual property rights that facilitate marketing of new varieties 
of seed-propagated crops and tubers. The Act also requires that 
reasonable fees be collected from the users of the services to cover 
the costs of maintaining the program.
    In January 2003, AMS published a rule in the Federal Register (60 
FR 17188) that increased Plant Variety Protection Office fees and that 
became effective February 2003.
    In February 2004, the AMS Budget Office performed a fee analysis 
that indicated the need to increase the program fee schedule in order 
to recover the administrative and information technology costs and 
maintain an adequate program reserve balance. For FY 2006, user fee 
revenues and program obligations are projected to be $1,496,000 and 
$1,614,720, respectively, resulting in an estimated $118,720 program 
deficit. AMS estimates that this final rule will yield an additional 
$227,100 during FY 2006 that will offset increased program operating 
costs. With a fee increase, FY 2007 revenues and expenditures are 
projected to be $1,773,200 and $1,705,662, respectively.
    AMS used the fees currently charged as a base for calculating the 
new fee schedule for FY 2006. The fees set forth in Sec. 97.175 as of 
February 2003 are increased. The supplemental fees that were 
established in May 2005 will not be increased, including the $250.00 
portion of the allowance and issuance fee that was implemented to 
recover the costs of improving the PVP program's electronic archiving 
capabilities. The application fee is increased from $432 to $518, the 
search fee from $3,220 to $3,864, and the original issuance fee from 
$432 to $518. The fees for reviving an abandoned application, 
correcting or re-issuance of a certificate are increased from $432 to 
$518. The charge for granting an extension for responding to a request 
is increased from $74 to $89. The hourly charge for any other service 
not specified is increased from $89 to $107. The fee for appeal to the 
Secretary (refundable if appeal overturns the Commissioner's decision) 
is increased from $4,118 to $4,942. Reproduction of records, drawings, 
certificates, exhibits or printed materials, late payment, and late 
replenishment of seeds is increased by 20 percent. These fee increases 
are necessary to recover the costs of this fee-funded program.
    At the March 2003 annual meeting, the Plant Variety Protection 
Advisory Board was informed of the anticipated FY 2005 cost increases 
for maintaining program operations and administration. We also 
consulted with the Board regarding potential increases to the basic fee 
schedule for FY 2006. They recommended that fees be increased. This 
rule makes the minimum changes in the regulations to implement the 
recommended increased fees to maintain the program as a fee-funded 
program.
    The Plant Variety Protection Board recommended that internal 
processes related to the handling of seed samples be streamlined. 
Section 97.6(d) was recently amended to provide that cell cultures for 
tuber-reproduced varieties need not be deposited until after the 
examination has been completed, rather than at the time the application 
is filed. A similar change was made for the establishment of plots of 
vegetative material for self-incompatible parents of hybrids. The 
requirement that 2,500 seeds of the basic variety must be submitted 
will the application was modified to allow waivers of this requirement. 
This final rule will further simplify this process by applying the same 
requirements to seeds and allowing the applicant to submit a 
declaration that the seed sample will be deposited, rather than 
requiring that the sample be submitted with the application. This will 
increase efficiencies in the PVP Office by removing the necessity for 
the Office to routinely handle the samples and forward them to the ARS 
National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation (NCGRP) facility in 
Ft. Collins, Colorado. The NCGRP is the only public depository approved 
by the Commissioner at the present time.
    We also require that a larger initial seed sample be deposited to 
ensure that germination testing does not deplete the stored sample. We 
have added of Section 97.7, which provides guidance to applicants in 
how, when, and where to deposit their voucher seed samples.

Summary of Public Comment

    A notice of the proposed rule was published in the Federal Register 
(70 FR 40921) on July 15, 2005. A 30-day comment period was provided to 
allow interested persons the opportunity to respond to the proposal, 
including any regulatory and informational impact of this action on 
organizations considered to be small businesses. The comment period 
expired on August 15, 2005, and two comments were received on the 
proposed rule.
    One comment stated that a fee increase would be accepted if 
stakeholders could feel that the PVP Office conducts its business in a 
prompt and orderly fashion. Another comment indicated that the fee 
increase was insufficient to cover the full costs relating to what the 
commenter believed was a negative impact on the United States with 
regard to plants and seeds that are introduced into this country. As 
previously stated, the PVP Act of 1970 requires that reasonable fees be 
collected from applicants seeking certificates of protection in order 
to maintain the program. This fee increase will adjust fees to provide 
adequate revenue for current program operations and to rebuild an 
adequate trust fund reserve. With regard to the PVP Office conducting 
its business in a prompt and orderly fashion, the Office continues to 
improve the quality of its services. Accordingly, no change to the rule 
will be made as a result of the comments.

[[Page 54611]]

List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 97

    Plants, seeds.


0
For reasons set forth in the preamble, 7 CFR part 97 is amended as 
follows.

PART 97--PLANT VARIETY AND PROTECTION

0
1. The authority citation for part 97 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: Plant Variety Protection Act, as amended, 7 U.S.C. 
2321 et seq.


0
2. Section 97.6(d)(1) is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  97. 6  Application for certificate.

* * * * *
    (d) * * *
    (1) A declaration that at least 3,000 seeds of the viable basic 
seed required to reproduce the variety will be deposited in a public 
depository approved by the Commissioner and will be maintained for the 
duration of the certificate; or
* * * * *

0
3. Section 97.7 is added to read as follows:


Sec.  97.7  Deposit of Voucher Specimen.

    (a) Voucher specimen types. As regards the deposit of voucher 
specimen material for purposes of plant variety protection applications 
under 7 U.S.C. 2321 et seq., the term voucher specimen shall include 
material that is capable of self-replication either directly or 
indirectly. Representative examples include seeds, plant tissue cells, 
cell lines, and plots of vegetative material of self-incompatible 
parental lines of hybrids. Seed samples should not be treated with 
chemicals or coatings.
    (b) Need to make a deposit. Applications for plant variety 
protection require deposit of a voucher specimen of the variety. The 
deposit shall be acceptable if made in accordance with these 
regulations. Sample packages shall meet the packaging and deposit 
requirements of the depository. Samples and correspondence about 
samples shall be identified, minimally, by:
    (1) The application number assigned by the Office;
    (2) The crop kind, genus and species, and variety denomination; and
    (3) The name and address of the depositor.
    (c) Acceptable depository. A deposit shall be recognized for the 
purposes of these regulations if made in:
    (1) The National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation, ARS, 
USDA, 1111 South Mason Street, Fort Collins, CO 80521-4500, or
    (2) Any other depository recognized to be suitable by the Office. 
Suitability will be determined by the Commissioner on the basis of the 
administrative and technical competence, and agreement of the 
depository to comply with the terms and conditions applicable to 
deposits for plant variety protection purposes. The Commissioner may 
seek the advice of impartial consultants on the suitability of a 
depository. The depository must:
    (i) Have a continuous existence;
    (ii) Exist independent of the control of the depositor;
    (iii) Possess the staff and facilities sufficient to examine the 
viability and quantity of a deposit, and store the deposit in a manner 
which ensures that it is kept viable and uncontaminated;
    (iv) Provide for sufficient safety measures to minimize the risk of 
losing biological material deposited with it;
    (v) Be impartial and objective;
    (vi) Refrain from distributing samples while the application is 
being examined and during the term of protection but, after control of 
the sample is transferred by the Office to the depository, furnish 
samples of the deposited material in an expeditious and proper manner;
    (vii) Have the capability to destroy samples or return samples to 
the Office when requested by the Office; and
    (viii) Promptly notify the Office of low viability or low quantity 
of the sample.
    (3) A depository seeking status under paragraph (c)(2) of this 
section must direct a communication to the Commissioner which shall:
    (i) Indicate the name and address of the depository to which the 
communication relates;
    (ii) Contain detailed information as to the capacity of the 
depository to comply with the requirements of paragraph (c)(2) of this 
section, including information on its legal status, scientific 
standing, staff, and facilities;
    (iii) Indicate that the depository intends to be available, for the 
purposes of deposit, to any depositor under these same conditions;
    (iv) Where the depository intends to accept for deposit only 
certain kinds of biological material, specify such kinds; and
    (v) Indicate the amount of any fees that the depository will, upon 
acquiring the status of suitable depository under paragraph (c)(2) of 
this section, charge for storage, viability statements and furnishings 
of samples of the deposit.
    (4) A depository having status under paragraph (c)(2) of this 
section limited to certain kinds of biological material may extend such 
status to additional kinds of biological material by directing a 
communication to the Commissioner in accordance with paragraph (c)(3) 
of this section. If a previous communication under paragraph (c)(3) of 
this section is of record, items in common with the previous 
communication may be incorporated by reference.
    (5) Once a depository is recognized to be suitable by the 
Commissioner or has defaulted or discontinued its performance under 
this section, notice thereof will be published in the Official Journal 
of the Plant Variety Protection Office or by other methods typically 
used for dissemination of information related to the procedures of the 
Office.
    (d) Time of making an original deposit. An original deposit of 
materials for seed-reproduced plants shall be made within three months 
of the filing date of the application or prior to issuance of the 
certificate, whichever occurs first. A waiver may be granted for good 
cause, such as delays in obtaining a phytosanitary certificate for the 
importation of voucher sample materials. When the original deposit is 
made, the applicant must promptly submit a statement from a person in a 
position to corroborate the fact, stating that the voucher specimen 
material which is deposited is the variety specifically identified in 
the application as filed. Such statement must be filed in the 
application and must contain the identifying information listed in 
paragraph (b) of this section and:
    (1) The name and address of the depository;
    (2) The date of deposit;
    (3) The accession number given by the depository; and
    (4) A statement that the deposit is capable of reproduction.
    (e) Replacement or supplement of deposit. If the depository 
possessing a deposit determines either that the sample viability is low 
or that the sample quantity is low, and if this finding is made during 
the pendency of an application or during the term of protection of the 
certificate, the Office shall notify the depositor of the need for 
making a replacement or supplemental deposit. Such deposits will be 
governed by the same considerations governing the need for making an 
original deposit under the provisions set forth in Sec.  97.7(d). 
Notification to the Office concerning deposit of the replacement or 
supplemental sample shall contain a statement from a person in a 
position to corroborate the fact, stating that the replacement or 
supplemental deposit is of a biological material which is identical to 
that originally deposited.
    (f) Term of deposit. A voucher specimen deposit made in support of 
an application for plant variety protection

[[Page 54612]]

shall be made for a term of at least twenty (20) years. In any case, 
samples must be stored under agreements that would make them available 
to the Office during the enforceable life of the certificate for which 
the deposit was made.
    (g) Viability of deposit. A deposit of biological material that is 
capable of self-replication either directly or indirectly must be 
viable at the time of deposit and during the term of deposit. Viability 
may be tested by the depository periodically. The test must conclude 
only that the deposited material is capable of reproduction. No 
evidence necessarily is required regarding the ability of the deposited 
material to perform any function described in the application. If a 
viability test indicates that the deposit is not viable upon receipt or 
that the quantity of material is insufficient, the examiner shall 
proceed as if no deposit was made. The examiner will accept the 
conclusion set forth in a viability statement issued by a depository 
recognized under paragraph 97.7(c).
    (h) Furnishing of samples. A deposit must be made under conditions 
that assure that:
    (1) Public access to the deposit will not be available during 
pendency of the application or during the term of protection, and
    (2) All restrictions on the availability to the public of the 
deposited material will be irrevocably removed upon the abandonment, 
cancellation, expiration, or withdrawal of the certificate.
    (i) Examination procedures. The examiner shall determine, prior to 
issuance of the certificate, in each application if a voucher sample 
deposit actually made is acceptable for plant variety protection 
purposes.

0
4. Section 97.175 is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  97.175  Fees and charges.

    The following fees and charges apply to the services and actions 
specified below:
    (a) Filing the application and notifying the public of filing--
$518.00.
    (b) Search or examination--$3,864.00.
    (c) Submission of new application data, after notice of allowance, 
prior to issuance of certificate--$432.00.
    (d) Allowance and issuance of certificate and notifying public of 
issuance--$768.00.
    (e) Revive an abandoned application--$518.00.
    (f) Reproduction of records, drawings, certificates, exhibits, or 
printed material (cost per page of material)--$1.80.
    (g) Authentication (each page)--$1.80.
    (h) Correcting or re-issuance of a certificate--$518.00.
    (i) Recording an assignment, any revision of an assignment, or 
withdrawal or revocation of an assignment (per certificate or 
application)--$41.00.
    (j) Copies of 8 x 10 photographs in color--$41.00.
    (k) Additional fee for reconsideration--$518.00.
    (l) Additional fee for late payment--$41.00.
    (m) Fee for handling replenishment seed sample (applicable only for 
certificates issued after June 20, 2005)--$38.00.
    (n) Additional fee for late replenishment of seed--$41.00.
    (o) Filing a petition for protest proceeding--$4,118.00.
    (p) Appeal to Secretary (refundable if appeal overturns the 
Commissioner's decision)--$4,942.00.
    (q) Granting of extensions for responding to a request--$89.00.
    (r) Field inspections by a representative of the Plant Variety 
Protection Office, made at the request of the applicant, shall be 
reimbursable in full (including travel, per diem or subsistence, and 
salary) in accordance with Standardized Government Travel Regulation.
    (s) Any other service not covered above will be charged for at 
rates prescribed by the Commissioner, but in no event shall they exceed 
$107.00 per employee-hour. Charges also will be made for materials, 
space, and administrative costs.

    Dated: September 13, 2005.
Kenneth C. Clayton,
Acting Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service.
[FR Doc. 05-18511 Filed 9-15-05; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-02-P