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RE: CULT: Patently Confused

From: "J.F. Hensler" <hensler@povn.com>

I have one plant (non iris) which has a patent applied for and another two 
varieties of plants (also non iris) which are scheduled to go into the 
"system" later this season. I'm still learning the finer details of the 
process, but I might be able to shed light on some of the aspects of 
patenting a plant.

A patent is used for plants which are in some way unique. The patent 
application requires information on whether the person applying has 
discovered or hybridized the plant so plants already released to market, 
especially by someone else, wouldn't be patentable.

There have been stories of ripoff artists who have patented a plant under 
development by someone else leading to some large court battles, but that's 
another story. It's also the primary reason why plants due to be patented 
are grown in "safe houses" until all the paperwork is in place!

Vegetative increases of a patented plant are still patented. Seedlings from 
a patented plant are generally not covered. Unless you have manipulated the 
genes themselves to come up with a unique color, I doubt that color could 
be patented. A new color "name" could be patented though as a trademark. 
Though you may grow patented plants purchased from a licensed seller, 
unless you have legal clearance to sell starts of a patented plant you can 
find yourself in court.

The cost of a patent for an individual is around $150. Add to this the 
costs of professional propagators (a must if you can't turn out a minimum 
of 10,000 starts for first release), patent attorneys, patent writer, and 
hopefully, someone to orchestrate the whole shebang and you can figure in a 
percentage of sales plus an initial outlay of between $1500 and $2500.

Figure also that the process, including trialing, will take a minimum of 
about 10 years to get a plant to market.

Where most irises (and daylilies) fall short of being worth patenting, is 
that most are not as unique as anyone would like to think (Evidenced by the 
huge problem of identifying those with lost tags!) so the expense and 
effort simply wouldn't be worth it.

Now....... If someone came up with a sterile, 6 foot tall, red iris with 
multicolored leaves, that could be grown in most parts of the country.....

Christy Hensler
Newport, WA z4b

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