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Re: Breeders' Rights

  • Subject: Re: Breeders' Rights
  • From: "Bill Meyer" <njhosta@hotmail.com>
  • Date: Wed, 18 Jul 2001 10:54:15 -0400

So Chick,
          Speaking of nonsense, just how many times can you go in a complete circle in one post anyway? If the old way of doing things isn't dying (dead was your version) as you see no evidence for, then the days of $200 introductions are gone, then where are we with this?
          We are in sort of a bridge period, I think, and nobody's all that sure where it's going. People can go to wholesalers web sites and see the price of plants from them. Then they can go to a retailer's site and see what the markup is. As we both know, retailers now buy TC plants for less than $5 for most things, with some hard-to-TC plants going for more. Plants that are generally available, then, aren't worth too much more than that, say $15 maximum. Maybe some are really hard to deal with and the price will be higher to reflect the number you lost. Is $50 fair for plants anyone can buy for $5 as liners? I don't think we have to wait for answers on that. Some still try to get that much, but those days are fading as consumers wise up. Reasonable markups (1000% isn't reasonable) is where things are headed with plants anyone can buy from wholesalers. This is where the market stands now for those plants, free competition driving the prices down to reasonable levels.
          So what's worth more than $15? Plants that are not available from 30 different retailers. Only scarcity makes them worth more. Give your customers some credit, they are learning to check prices with the Hosta Finder and on the web. If you have your new plant TCed to offer it the first time, people don't know if you had 100 made or 10,000. If there's a lot, they aren't worth much and everybody is learning that now. If they buy a new intro for $100, then see it next year (the same size and age, so obviously part of the same TC batch) for $15 at their local society's spring plant sale, they feel they've been had. This has been done, as many reading this know. Because of this and because of the quality control problems Ran brought up, people are getting the message that new intros that have been TCed aren't worth very much. This message came directly from the nurseries, not from me.
           In the last paragraphs you give a pretty fair picture of the way things work today. The nurseries can do whatever they want and the hybridizers get only what the nurseries feel like giving them, unless they get a patent. Because the Plant Patent system as it stands is so disfunctional that only the biggest nurseries make use of it, no hybridizer has gotten a patent on a plant. If one did, the nurseries would probably decide to go with a plant from somebody else who didn't have a patent on it. The nurseries have all the power when it comes to working out those agreements the way the laws stand now, and the hybridizers don't have a leg to stand on. That's why those Breeders' Rights laws were passed in other countries. Here and now, the breeders have no rights as you've explained in your post.
            If I owned a big nursery and I saw you put out the next 'Satisfaction', I could buy the first one, TC it for 20,000 plants and start selling it to anybody who wanted it for $5 and there's not a thing you could do. I wouldn't have to give you a dime beyond what I paid for the first one, and the entire $100,000 that I made would be my gain and your loss. Are you saying that you are happy with a system that works that way? In the early 1900's most things worked that way, now only a few still do. Sooner or later, I think the laws will catch up in the plant industry, as they have with most others. The people who write, paint, create music, invent things, etc. all used to be in the position that hybridizers are in now, but today they receive a fair portion of the profits made on their work by law, not by the whim of the businesses. The businesses that sell that work once screamed too that they couldn't survive if they had to share their profits with the people who created their products. They're still around, aren't they? They wouldn't be if they weren't making money, so I guess that wasn't really true, huh?
           OK, your turn, YIS.
                                                                            ..........Bill Meyer

The sky is falling! The sky is falling!

Well, I'm probably going to get everyone pissed off at me again, but that's never slowed me down before so here we go...

Bill Meyer, you're talking nonsense again.

Bill Meyer wrote:

          The system as it has been existing so far is falling apart.
I see absolutely no evidence that there ever was a system or that anything is falling apart. Things change and we have to adjust to the changes.
anyone can afford to either TC a plant, BAP it, or pay to have it done
(about $300 for 100 TC liners).
Don't forget that the "almost anyone" can be the breeder, too.
Once you sell it the first time, one of
those buyers can have plenty for sale within a year to undercut you and
destroy your ability to make money on your own plant. This is destroying the
high end of the market, where you could sell a few of your OS plants for
$100 or more.
First of all, I'm not sure that your theory that the market of high end OS plants is dead.  I offered Satisfaction OS for $75 in my catalog this year, the 6th year I've had it listed I think, along with tc plants at $35.  I had no problem selling all the OS plants I had available.  If I didn't have the tc plants to sell also, that would have been the end of it.  Personally, I don't think I would pay much more for OS plants, but some people don't like tc and if they want the few OS plants available, they have to pay for them.  Their choice.
I've heard more and more of these collectors say that they are
starting to feel foolish paying that kind of money for something that they
can buy for $20 next year. Some of them even say that they do it now only to
support the hybridizers, that if it wasn't for that reason they would wait
for them to get cheaper. In time, with things going the way they are, Chick
won't be able to do what he did with 'Satisfaction', because the only people
left willing to pay $200 for it will be those who want to market it
When I introduced Satisfaction at $200, I did so because I only had a few plants to sell.  It was very difficult to find anyone to do tc privately then. There was no trick involved, there just wasn't any way I could make enough plants to sell them at a reasonable price.   The day of the $200 introduction may be gone, but now a breeder can spend spend a few hundred dollars, have 100 or more plants to sell before anyone else has even seen the plant, price it at a reasonable level, sell a bunch of them because it's not outrageously expensive, do it again next year while all these "pirates" are getting it tc'd, and keep selling it for years after that.  Just because a plant is in tc doesn't mean you can't sell it any more.  Sergeant Pepper has been in tc for years and I still sell plenty of the OS for $30 each.  I just got my first shipment of tc plants because I can't grow enough OS to keep up.

Just because things have changed doesn't mean we can't adjust to the change and still sell our plants.  It just means that people don't have to pay $200 to get a good new plant anymore.  Instead of selling one for $200, sell four for $50, or maybe five.  Thanks to the tc labs, you don't have to be afraid of someone else flooding the market with reasonably priced plants, you can do it yourself.

I think the main reason that the days of the $200 plant are gone, is because it's no longer a fair price.  When you could only make a few plants a year, then there was a reason to charge a lot for them.  No anyone, including you, can have plants produced in quantity, quickly and cheaply, and it's time to charge a reasonable price for them.  Is $50 reasonable for a new plant? Who knows.  The customers get to decide that.  Some would probably rather wait three years and hope to get it for $25, others will be willing to pay more to get it sooner.

         I don't see what's wrong with a change to a system where a small
percentage goes to the hybridizer and nurseries must make legally binding
arrangements with the hybridizer to sell the plant.
How do we go about forcing nurseries to make legally binding agreements with hybridizers?  You patent the plant. And while I've not done it, I don't think you have to pay anything like $6000, especially if your bright enough to go to the Patent Office site, read someone else's patent application, and do the paperwork yourself.  It may be harder than it looks, but it didn't seem that complicated to me.  If you want to find an easier way, you have to change the law.  That'll happen.
The end result would be
slightly higher prices for hostas (say 5%), with that 5% going to the
originator. Of course sellers of a product would prefer to keep all the
profits themselves. Who wouldn't. What I'm suggesting is parity between
producers of plants and those who propagate and sell them. Before there were
unions, employers did whatever they felt like. They got so out of hand with
their behavior that unions formed to balance the situation out. Now both
sides must negotiate fair agreements. That's what the Breeders' Rights laws
bring to the situation-------fair agreements worked out between both
Whoops, I see that's actually what you are suggesting.  My guess is that Congress will probably hop right on it.
Now, mostly there are no agreements, or there are some which could
be a lot better for the hybridizers. How many hybridizers feel that that
they got a fair percentage of the profits made selling their plants?
Especially those who do not have their own nurseries?
I'm sure that very few hybridizers think they are getting a fair share.  But that's how it works.  If you don't think you're getting what it's worth, you find someone else to deal with who will give you a better deal.  If you can't find anyone, then maybe it's not really worth that much.  One thing you have to remember is that the person who is going to do all the work of growing and selling your plant for you probably isn't going to do it unless there is a profit involved.  And the kicker is that if the grower can choose another variety and make just as much without sharing it, there is no incentive.

Let's say you have a great plant and offer it to a potential parter as follows:  "I have a great plant and if you grow it and sell it and share the proceeds with me, you can make a larger profit.  If not, I'll deal with someone else and they will make the profit and you won't."  What happens next, I think, depends on how great the plant really is.  



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