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Re: A moral question

  • Subject: Re: A moral question
  • From: "Bill Meyer" <njhosta@hotmail.com>
  • Date: Mon, 15 Mar 2004 10:34:34 -0500

Chick, Chick, Chick,
          Guilty conscience? My, my. Just the mere mention of dishonest
businesspeople and you get all excited! I'm pretty sure I didn't mention you
anywhere in my post, but I'll go back and check it again. Nope. Didn't say
Chick was one of those dishonest sellers anywhere. Not even once.
          For anyone who doesn't know Chick, I will say here that he has
never to my knowledge cheated anyone in any business dealings. Let's get
that out of the way right now. Although he talks like a pirate, he is
actually a pretty honest plant seller. One with some decidedly weird
opinions, but honest nonetheless.
          So, Chick, by this morning you've probably shaken off the effects
of a big Turtle win, too many beers, and whatever you snitched from the
neighbors medicine cabinet. I think it's sort of admirable the way you stand
up for your fellow nursery operators. I truly enjoy the interesting concept
that because everybody cheats, then cheating must be OK. We can't really
name names here, which does take some of the fun out of it. I've had some
very interesting private E-mails about just the sort of outright thievery I
was talking about before. I personally wouldn't be afraid to discuss such
behavior openly, but I was asked not to.
         People who do things like that prefer to skulk around in the
shadows because even they know what people would say about them if their
actions were publicly discussed. Most are still in business, so they won't
see their names here. Why does this happen? Well, as has been pointed out
hybridizers have no protection under the laws unless they're willing to
spend $5,000 or so on a plant patent for each and every plant. To some
nurserypeople this means that they have a free ride to do whatever they
         Without saying anyone's actual name, because God forbid we actually
call a thief a thief, there was once a highly respected dealer in rare
hostas who lived in Ohio. He had contracts with many of the leading
hybridizers and he even paid them the money he owed them for a while. Then
he stopped paying them, hiding from their phone calls, not answering their
mail, etc. Then he started just keeping the money his customers sent and not
sending them plants. Wait.......I know what you're going to say - What's
wrong with that? Right? Well, actually there is something wrong with that as
most can agree. Last I heard he was in jail, and the people he cheated were
still trying to get back the plants he owed them.
        He would be one of those dishonest sellers I was talking about. Not
the only one by any means, but one of them. I've heard remarkable stories of
even written contracts that were signed then broken casually by said
dishonest sellers. Are they all true? I'm sure they'd deny them and I'm not
going repeat them here. I'm also not going to have any business dealings
with them. Too much negative feedback, just like Ebay, only not public. I
think people like them are on their way out, though, because they need to
operate in secrecy. Business is becoming more and more public, even the
nursery business. Have you seen Garden Watchdog yet? It's a site where
people rate mail order nurseries. It's here -  http://gardenwatchdog.com/ I
think this sort of thing will mean the end of the worst sellers continuing
their dishonest ways, as more and more people report on their activities in
public forums. This is what I meant about the Court of Public Opinion. Looks
like you did well there.
        I find it odd that you and Andrew are in agreement that hybridizers
should have no rights beyond those a plant patent offers. That since there
is no legal protection, it's actually "moral" to take whatever you can. We
had a similar discussion once about photos on the internet. There were a few
"pirates" out there who also thought the photographers had no rights and
their photos were free for everyone to take and use as they pleased. As it
turned out, they were protected under US copyright laws, so the "why
shouldn't I take it" argument didn't look so good. For that matter, even
this E-mail is protected and I can take someone to court for using it
elsewhere without my permission, not that I would.
        While you claim there is nothing wrong with profiting from the work
of hybridizers without offering them even a tiny share, I notice that at
your sites neither you nor Andrew do that with other people's photos.
Anyway, this started out as a question of morality and ethics. That's really
what it's about. Taking advantage of gaps in the laws is legal. Ethical is
another question.
                                                   ............Bill Meyer

> Good Lord.  Where to start.
> First, I want to thank Glen for opening up a topic that I knew from the
> start Bill Meyer could not resist.  I was waiting for the reply that I
> knew would show up soon, chock full of Bill's theories of how the hosta
> world and the business world should work.  I only wish that Glen had
> started the ball rolling sooner, as it definitely collides with March
> Madness, and it's hard to take Bill seriously when there's basketball to
> be watched.
> Ok - that's as far as I got before the final game of the ACC tourney.
> It's all over now and the fearsome turtles have taken it all.  They came
> from 12 points down to beat the hated Duke Blue Devils 95-87 in overtime.
> Now it's on the NCAA, hopefully to surprise a few more people.  I realize
> fully that none of you care, but for me, life is good.  Maryland won the
> ACC championship and I've got a ridiculous Bill Meyer post to deal with.
> ------------
> Well Bill, I've been looking at your recent posts and I honestly don't
> know how to respond.  Did you read that stuff about the wolves and sheep
> before you hit the send button?
> If I went line by line and pointed out all of the nonsense, I would be
> here all night.  I know you can take a bit of good-natured ribbing, but
> your latest posts are so silly that I'm afraid you might take offense if
> I go too far.
> But I like this sentence so much that I can't let it go:
> If you have a nursery and you take from the hybridizers and do not give
> a fair share for what is either their find or their invention, then the
> quickly spreads that you're a greedy dishonest seller to be avoided at all
> costs.
> No offense Bill, but that is total drivel.  Based on your concepts, I
> cannot think of a single nursery that doesn't fall into your category of
> greedy dishonest sellers.  I have apparently been one for 25 years and
> word is quickly spreading.  I can't tell you how much I appreciate your
> telling me, cause nobody else has mentioned it.
> And I have read and re-read the last two paragraphs and the only comment
> I could come up with is "what in the hell is he talking about?" What
> dishonest sellers are complaining about conspiracies? I guess I'm a
> greedy dishonest grower and I didn't even know there was a conspiracy. I
> truly hope that you are not really going to withhold new plants from the
> market, cause there's already a shortage.  If the list of new hostas
> available each year drops below two to three hundred, it's really going
> to start causing some pain. My biggest fear is that you guys are out
> there teaching me a lesson and I'm not even aware of it. Who is
> exploiting you? Who is growing a Bill Meyer plant "dishonestly"? I know
> we can't name names here, but tell me which plants are involved and maybe
> I can figure it out.
> I would hate for everyone to think I have no sympathy for the
> hybridizers.  I have introduced plants that others are growing, and
> unless we had a prior agreement, nobody is paying me a cent.  And I grow
> other hostas that I did not introduce and unless there is an agreement, I
> don't pay the hybridizer. And I would bet that Bill has grown plenty of
> hostas from other hybridizers without a thought as to whether they were
> compensated.  We all know that no royalties are paid on most of the
> hostas we grow.  And we all know that any money paid to the hybridizer
> would just be passed on to the buyer, so maybe anyone who grows one of my
> plants and didn't get it from me should just send me a quarter.  I think
> your ideas are utterly bogus, but I'm just greedy and dishonest enough to
> pretend I think you're right if there's any money in it for me.
> Keep em coming Bill, I love your dry sense of humor.  You might want to
> use some of those smiley faces.  I'll bet a lot of people out there think
> you're serious. :-)
> As always, all my love,
> Chick

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