Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Google Patent Search for Plants

Google Patent Search has probably been around for a little while but since it says Beta it may be a relatively recent development. The patent search makes it very easy to find patented inventions including plants. Just type in the name of your plant and instantly you are provided with the patent records. This could be extremely useful for those of us who really enjoy propagating plants. Just keep in mind that you need to be very specific on your plant query since there are over 7 million patents listed to search through. Plants are given patents to protect the research and development of new plants. The patent gives the holder a period of time (20 years from the date of the application) where they retain the license of the plant and can charge others for the use of the license. It's good overall to encourage the development of new varieties of plants but can be tricky to navigate for plant propagators who wish to remain in good terms with the law! I went into greater detail in my post What In The World Are Plant Patents?

'Oranges and Lemons' Gaillardia
PP#17092
If there's a plant you have doubts on propagating because of a potential patent it's a good idea to run a search first and make sure it isn't protected. You can also look at the date and figure how long it will be until the patent expires so that everyone may propagate it. The patent search is also useful if you want to learn more about a patented variety. You can look at the patent, the drawings and pictures that are submitted, and who developed the plant. If you are looking for something very specific try the advanced search where you can input dates, patent numbers, names, and other information to hunt down that elusive patent. Keep in mind that patents aren't easy reading.  I wouldn't want to sit down in a comfy chair with a cup of tea to relax while reading plant patents, but maybe that's just me. It is interesting material to look at on occasion to learn more about your plants!

6 comments :

  1. How interesting Dave, I have wondered about this from time to time as I am always pinching and planting.

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  2. The thought of patenting plants bothers me. Patenting life just seems strange.

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  3. Very informative Dave. I've wondered about that myself.

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  4. Great garden blog idea. I wonder how many gardeners are breaking the law and don't even know it?

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  5. ...or those of us who skirt the whole idea, understanding that there is patent protection but hoping no one will notice? I think the average home gardener isn't the target for protecting patents, but it could be a concern, say, for horticultural societies raising plants for sale as a fundraiser. Sigh.

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  6. Darla,

    It's most likely not a big issue for casual at home gardeners but it's a big issue for anyone who wants to produce large quantities of plants for retail.

    Michelle,

    Think of it more of patenting the process and it's only temporary. More of a license that allows the breeder to profit from their hard work. It takes many years to develop and produce plants that can be brought to market, patents give them a little time to get things going.

    Thanks Lola!

    Mr Brownthumb,

    That's a good question. Technically nothing that is patented should be propagated vegetatively. Enforcing this on the general home gardener would be hard since many plants NEED to be divided. Hostas, heucheras, and many other perennials benefit when divided.

    Kenneth,

    You're right. I hadn't considered large plant sales for plant societies and fundraisers. They could possibly being doing some risky things.

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