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Re: Breeders' Rights


Bill Meyer wrote:

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?

Well, I'm not sure what circle I went in, but I can at least give you my answers for the questions you raise.  I'll type slowly, so try to understand.

I don't really know where we are, but I do know that I can't control it, I can't get new laws passed, I can't hide from the tc labs,
so I just have to live with the real world.
           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.

Is $50.00 reasonable for a plant that you can buy for $5.00.  Nope.  But $50.00 is reasonable if I'm the only one who has the plant,
and that's what I want to charge for it, and you can buy it if you like or not.  If I want to charge $50.00 for my next introduction, or
$10.00, or $100.00, that's a business decision that I have to make.  One thing you fail to consider is that
I don't just sell to the people on this forum.  If I make the investment to have a plant tc'd privately, I figure that I have two years to sell
it before anyone else can get the plant, have it propagated, get it back and grow it on to sell it.  Yes, I know that some people start
selling a plant as soon as they see that it's going to be tc'd, before they've even seen a plant.  So what?  These people don't
significantly affect my sales.  Most of my customers don't even know they exist and half of those that do wouldn't buy anything from
them again.  And if reputable growers like Ran buy the plant, he'll grow it on for a reasonable time before he sells it, and if he wants
to lower the price, that's what competition does.  Ran has no reason to sell the plant at a price that is not profitable.

You say plant prices are headed to reasonable levels.  Is there some problem with that?  What about the poor shmuck that pays me
big bucks for a plant and then sees it two or three years later for $15-25.  Well, the first thing he or she can do is walk out in the
garden and see a plant with 8-10 eyes or more by the time the cheaper plant arrives, and compare that to plant they're going to get.  For those that want to wait for the prices to come down, it's no secret that they will.  I seldom have trouble selling plants the first year they are available if they are good
plants. For some reason, it seems to me that you think that when the competition gets ahold of my plant that my business dies.  As Tony Avent once said to me, I don't care about the competition. There is no suggested retail price for hostas.  Obviously, we all look at what our competition does when we set our prices, but I decide how much to charge for my plants and my customers decide whether I made the right decision.  If someone else sells for less, then I have to decide whether to drop my price or not.  It seems to me that that is the way business works.
           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.

Actually, I think $15-20 is a reasonable price for a plant procuced by tc, and if you look through my catalog, that's what I charge for most of new plants that I get from the labs.  I don't have any firm rules on pricing, but generally I charge more for plants that are streaked, because I usually consider only a small percentage of the plants I get from tc to have enough streaking to be worth selling.  I charge more for plants that I have put into tc for myself because I took the risk and made the investment, and because few people offer the plants and I can charge whatever I think is the right price for the plant.  If I charge $100 for a plant, it's because I have control over it and I doubt very much that you are going to see it the next year for $15.00.
            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.

First of all, you are not going to change the law.  Get real.  Secondly, how can the big bad nurseries have all the power if you have the plant?  If they won't give you anything for it, then you have to find someone that will.  If you can't find anyone, maybe it's not worth what you think it is.  You can't force someone to give you money for a plant if they don't want to.

I wish someone who knows exactly what's involved in patenting would help out here, because I haven't done it.  But I have looked at the patent applications of others, you can see them on the Patent Office site, and it doesn't look that daunting to me.  There are a number of fees involved, and I didn't go through them all to see what the final total would be, but the basic filing fee for a plant patent appears to be $245.00.
             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.

No there isn't.  Also, if you wanted to give them away, I couldn't do anything about it.  What's the point?  First of all, as we've already determined, there is no justification for selling a plant that can be tc'd for $200.  Secondly, I've already explained to you why I don't care.  Unless there is somebody out there that wants to run me out of business just because they don't like me, which is, I admit, a definite possiblilty, there is no reason for them to price a plant at a level that is not profitable.  If I have a good plant that warrants 20,000 copies, and I didn't arrange for it to be tc'd myself before Mr. Big Nursery even heard of it, then I am stupid and don't deserve to make any money.  We are not working in a vacumn here.  It's not like you have to sit back and wait for people to do things to you.   My God Man!  Get some backbone!

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?

No, I would be much happier with a system that said nobody could sell hostas but me.  But I just don't have the political clout to make that happen, so I learn to do business with the system the way it is.  Nobody owes me anything.  If I can't make it doing this, I have to do something else.  What you forget is that if I can't make it, it's because someone else has figured out a better way of doing it, and that option is open to me too.  If I can't adjust, I deserve to be dead meat.

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?

The same laws that protect them are available to you at the Patent Office.  You say that if a breeder patents a plant that the big nurseries will just produce a different plant.  What is it in your proposed new law that changes that.  Are the tc labs going to required to pay for the plants whether they want to or not?
            OK, your turn, YIS.

There it is.  Reply if you dare.


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