U.S. plant patents are a distinct type of patent different from utility patents that protect plant technologies. Plant patents protect asexually reproducing plants, excluding edible tubers and plants found in an uncultivated state. U.S. plant patent documents share many fields and sections with utility patent documents, but there are important differences. This section highlights a few.
In addition to overall changes to the form that differentiate plant patents from utility patents (e.g., the document type in INID field 12 is modified from “United States Patent” to “U.S. Plant Patent”), plant patents have some of the following unusual features:
- A “Technical Information” field (INID field 50) indicates Latin name and varietal denomination for the protected plant.
- The U.S. Cl. field (INID 52) includes a U.S. Patent Classification (USPC) code, as well as a CPC code. Although the USPTO has switched completely to CPC for new utility patents since 2013, examiners continue to classify new plant patents under CPC and the older USPC system for additional specificity.
- U.S. plant patents only contain a single claim, in which characteristics of the plant may be specified, but no parts or products can be singled out for protection.
- U.S. plant patents often contain color photographs in the Drawing Sheets section in order to best represent the appearance of the plant. These are available in the printed versions of plant patents, many of which have been scanned and made available in a database hosted by University of Maryland Libraries Digital Collections.