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Re: A moral question

  • Subject: Re: A moral question
  • From: "Bill Meyer" <njhosta@hotmail.com>
  • Date: Tue, 16 Mar 2004 13:31:04 -0500

Hi Dan,
        This post contains some topics other than the main one, so I'll
address those separately.
        Other than plant patents there are no legal steps a hybridizer can
take. Sure, there are agreements and contracts, but those are often full of
holes unless high-priced legal assistance is obtained. Further legal expense
would be necessary to go up against big companies that have broken their
agreements as well. Because of the costs of legal assistance vs. the
relatively small amounts of money involved, this is really not a viable
option either.
        It is pretty innocent to expect that all the results from TCing your
plants would also be yours, unless you spelled that out in the contract.
Again, this goes back to hybridizers thinking mistakenly that they have some
protection under the existing laws. If they took a roll of film to a
developer to have it processed, they would own any prints that were made
there. The same goes for most other things. It is hard for them to grasp
that they have no rights to their property, and that the TC lab can legally
keep whatever they want to keep. This and other variations on the theme have
occurred repeatedly. Is it ethical? Well, it's legal, provided it is not
spelled out in the contract.
         There was a period where some sellers TCed new plants and offered
them at OS prices as if they were rare material when in fact they had
hundreds more. Once they tapped out the buyers who were willing to pay the
big prices, they lowered their prices again and again until they sold off
the rest. I think this was just a brief aberration as the market adjusted to
the TC process and its effects. The people who bought high only to see the
very same thing available the next year at a much lower price felt burned in
the deal and made it known. I doubt we'll see much more of that. Put it down
to businesses experimenting with what they could get away with. It didn't
fly, and I don't think we'll see any more of it.
        The market is still adjusting to the impact TC had on it. OS
material is rebounding from the blows it took, and the rare end of the
market is making a comeback. Even Bob Solberg is offering an OS plant of his
own this year. I think this is because it is becoming clear that there are
many more new plants on the scene than can be TCed each year. As fast as TC
can destroy the value of a 'My Child Insook', another 'Xanadu Paisley' will
pop up. Also we are seeing a new wrinkle in originators paying for
small-scale TC production of their own plants and selling them themselves
with no nurseries offering them. The market is still full of many different
niches. Serious collectors have to do a little more homework now, but there
are still genuine rarities out there.
        All in all, I think it is best for hostas if there are many
different segments of the market, rather than one big commodities market
with only a few varieties available cheaply. We don't need the
Wal-Mart-ization of hostas.
                                            .....Bill Meyer

> I think "A moral question" is a bad name for this thread because it's not
> about morals.
> It's really a legal question. The hybridizer needs take the necessary
> steps to secure their plants. The hybridizer has to step up and become a
> business person.........not just a plant person....if they want to profit
> their breeding efforts.
> I find it kind of humorous when I hear of people sending their plants to a
> lab and expecting all sports from this plant to belong to them too. I
> if they expect the fungi, mites and bacteria that grow in those test tubes
> belong to them too?
> Hosta hybridizers have never made much money. The money is made(and it's
> disappearing fast) by the people who propagate and market hostas.  We have
> nursery people who are doing both the hybridizing and marketing of their
> hostas and we often see their hostas selling for $100 or so and in limited
> distribution. Even this kind of hybridizer/business person is in danger
> today.
> Some hosta collectors eventually figure out that paying $100 for a hosta
> because it's distribution has been limited to keep the price high is not
> path to a great garden or even a great plant collection. Lots of hosta
> collectors have caught on to the fact that they can just wait a couple of
> years and buy the same plant for $15 or $20 and even at that price it's
> not the equal of older cultivars.
> I know some hosta collectors are upset that so many fine hostas were on
> market cheap. They use to be $100 and you could not get them. Now everyone
> them. How terrible.
> Dan
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