Understanding plant patents

Glenn W. Peterson

Many in Sacramento might think that your work in botany or horticulture might preclude you from ever having to worry about patent law. Yet if your work leads you to the development of new plant species, than you will want to ensure that the important details of that species are protected in much the same way an inventor would want their product protected. Many in your field have come to us here at the Peterson Watts Law Group, LLP asking how to commence the traditional patent process. Like them, you may be surprised to learn that their actually special provision designed specifically to patent new plants.

According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, a plant patent will keep your new plant species (both as a whole and in part) from being reproduced, sold and/or imported by others for a period of 20 years from the date of the patent being granted. To qualify, your plant must be a living plant organism determined by a unique genotype or genetic makeup that can be asexually reproduced and not simply manufactured. Algae and macro-fungi qualify as plants under these guidelines, but not bacteria. Your plants uniqueness may be prompted by either an invented or discovered mutation, yet in the case of the latter, the discovery must have been made in a cultivated environment.

You can apply for a plant either individually or as a research team (with each team member being identified as a co-creator). It may be necessary to also file a design patent or utility patent in conjunction with your plant patent if you wish to also protect your plant’s likeness or its reproductive process. You can learn more about the many different types of patents by continuing to explore our site.