Today, all growers need more transparency in the market to understand which seeds are covered by intellectual property protection that may impact their ability to save, sell, research, and breed with certain seeds.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issues two types of patents that can be applied to agricultural innovations:
Utility patents can be granted for a new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvements of these inventions. Learn how read the parts of a patent application.
Plant patents can be granted for the invention or discovery of any asexually reproduced new and distinct variety of plant. This includes cultivated sports, mutants, hybrids, and newly found seedlings, but excludes tuber-propagated plants or plants found in an uncultivated state.
The public can view pending and granted patent applications to stay updated on emerging innovations and the state of the art in agriculture.
The public is also invited to submit published patents, patent applications, and other nonpatent published literature that may be relevant to the examination of a patent application.
To receive a patent, applicants are sometimes required to deposit samples of seeds or plant tissue. When certain conditions are met, these samples are available to the public.