Tests for distinctness, uniformity and stability (DUS) are an essential component of variety registration and granting plant breeders’ rights. This study, performed on industrial chicory (Cichorium intybus L.), included (1) an evaluation of the discriminating power of the UPOV characteristics and (2) a comparison of the root shape between the UPOV based characteristics and characteristics determined via image analysis. Five consecutive growing periods were studied to assess the long-term stability of the parameters. Lack of discriminating power of characteristics for examining distinctness may impede breeding progress by failing to discriminate novel candidate varieties. However, a balance needs to be set so that newly introduced characteristics or new evaluation methodologies are not too powerful as to damage the protection of registered varieties. The results showed great differences in the discriminating power of the UPOV characteristics. The elimination of some of these low-discriminating characteristics would probably result in savings, but would have no consequences on the decisions taken by DUS testing authorities. Image analysis-derived characteristics could either replace currently-used parameters or provide additional characteristics with good discriminating power, determined in an objective and standardized way. Here we discuss possible implications for variety registration.