Plant Patent Definition
A plant patent refers to an intellectual property right which safeguards a new and unique plant’s major features from being sold, copied, or utilized by others. A plant patent is capable of assisting an inventor lock in higher profits during the period of patent protection by preventing competitors from making use of the plant. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) grants the plant patents in the U.S. to the inventor, the inventor’s heirs, or those assigned by the inventor.
Breaking Down Plant Patent
A patentable plant can either be natural, somatic or bred. Being somatic means that it was made from the plant’s non-reproductive cells. It can be discovered or invented, but a plant patent would only be given to a plant if the discovery made was in a cultivated area. It’s mandatory that the plant is asexually reproducible, and is genetically similar to the original and performed via methods like bulbs, root cuttings, or grafting and budding to ascertain the stability of the plant. The plant can be a macro fungus or alga, but bacteria don’t qualify. Tubers, like Jerusalem artichokes and potatoes, aren’t accepted for plant patents, nor are plants which are unique solely because of soil fertility or growing conditions.
Like any invention, a plant must not be visible for patentability qualification. A different patent type, the utility patent, applies to specific seeds, plants, and plant-reproduction processes.
Plant Patent Conditions
An inventor has a year within the sale or release of the plant to apply for a plant patent. The USPTO would only grant a plant patent if the inventor presents a comprehensive botanical description which explains the plant’s uniqueness and includes drawings reflecting the unique features of the plant. Furthermore, the applicant must fulfill the other requirements for a patent application and pay the relevant fees.
It’s possible for a plant patent to have two named inventors where one discovers the plant and the other asexually reproduces it. Supposing the invention is a team effort, all team members can be named as a co-inventor.
While a plant patent safeguards the intellectual property rights of the inventor for 20 years from the filing date of the patent application, the patent application itself goes public 18 months after the initial patent filing date, meaning that competitors would be able to know the invention’s details much sooner.
Plant Patent and Other Patents
In addition to plant patent application, an inventor may also have to apply for a design patent or utility patent to have full protection of the plant. For instance, if the new plant variety has a rare appearance, the inventor will want a plant patent, as well as, a design patent.