Seed Variety Name Clearance Program

Since the 1890s, USDA has kept track of agricultural and vegetable seed varieties sold in the United States.  The USDA examines seed advertising materials, labels from seed containers, and information provided by seed companies, to compile a database of variety names. The Variety Name Database supports the Variety Name Clearance Service provided by SRTD. 

The United States does not have a mandatory plant variety registration system. However, under the Federal Seed Act, once a variety has been traded or sold under a name, that name cannot be changed. In addition, the name can never be used for another variety of the same kind.  By using the Variety Name Clearance Service, companies can reduce the chances of variety name conflicts and potential FSA violations.  Please note that name clearance does not guarantee freedom from conflicts and does not establish a legal right to a variety name.  View more information on the principles of variety naming based on the FSA.

Variety Name Lists

Prior to applying for a variety name clearance, variety developers or licensees should search for the proposed name using our online search tool.  The Agricultural Variety Name List (zip) and Vegetable Variety Name List (zip) may also be consulted and are updated quarterly.

Applicants should also conduct due diligence to avoid trademark infringement.  SRTD does not perform searches of the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, nor does it make those determinations.  The variety name database does not include entries for flower, tree, shrub, or vegetatively propagated crops. 

Apply for Variety Name Clearance

Requests for variety name clearance may be submitted using the online form or by emailing

When a request is received, SRTD compares the proposed name with variety names in the database. This evaluation is to determine if the proposed variety name has already been used.  The evaluation will also determine if a proposed variety name is too similar to an existing name. If no conflicts are found, a variety name clearance letter will be issued to the requestor.  Otherwise, an explanation of the conflict will be provided.

Permanent Entry in the Variety Name Database 

The introduction of a new variety into the marketplace is determined by the release date.  If a conflict between two existing names arise, SRTD will clear the name that was released first into commerce. 

For some variety names that have a preliminary clearance from SRTD, a company may decide not to use the name for various reasons. To keep the database as accurate as possible and to keep potential names available for other new varieties, SRTD requests release dates to ensure the variety and name has been used in commerce.  Attempting to “reserve” names to block other companies from using them is not allowed.  Release information may be submitted through the online Variety Name Release Date form or via direct email to   The release information is added to the database entry for the variety.  At this point, the entry is considered permanent.

Contact Information:
For questions related to SRTD’s Variety Name Clearance Service contact:

Steve Malone, Ph.D., CCA/CPAg
US OECD Seed Schemes Program Manager
704-810-8888 or 980-308-4617 (mobile)

Kevin Robinson
Seed Marketing Specialist

Additional Resources