It started way back in Elizabethan times, when Royal favours were issued to the inventors of new techniques or things as a means by which they might benefit from the success of their inventions. It's easy to assume these Royal favours were issued because it seemed 'fair' that the inventor of a new gizmo should benefit from it without having to worry that he'd be undercut by a gizmo maker in the next village, but strictly speaking 'fairness' is not what concerns IP laws. It's all about the social good and improving the lot of civilisation. The concept is simple: new inventions take society forward, and if inventors can't benefit from the act of inventing, where's the incentive to invent?
But the Royal favour was open to abuse. Monopolies stacked the deck too much in favour of the inventor. He sold his gizmo at the highest price the market would stand, maximising margin and profit at the expense of volume. If a gizmo is accessible to only the wealthy few, society in general does not benefit. In 1623 a law was enacted to prohibit monopolies other than those defined for a limited period. There was a time in the late 17th century when all books were registered to regulate the book trade and protect printers from piracy. It soon became unwieldy. Our copyright laws date back to 1709 and 'The Statute of Anne'.
That statute explicitly named the author as the owner of copyright, but its full name makes it clear that it exists to 'encourage learning' - again, it's not about 'being fair' to the author, it's about providing a law that will benefit civilisation.
'Plant Breeders Rights' safe guard IP for breeders, they allow him to make something from his efforts.
But, just like copyright, PBRs exist for the benefit of society rather than for the breeder: they provide a framework that delivers benefits to breeders of new varieties because they recognise that new plant varieties are good for all of us.
Tim Edwards is chairman of Boningale Nurseries