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Re: Breeders' Rights

  • Subject: Re: Breeders' Rights
  • From: "Bill Meyer" <njhosta@hotmail.com>
  • Date: Wed, 18 Jul 2001 22:44:19 -0400

Well Chick,
               One question that comes to mind is--------If the Plant Patent system is as good and as cheap as you make it out to be, why hasn't anybody gotten one other than the big multi-million dollar nurseries like Walters and Shady Oaks? Why haven't you gotten one? It seems to me that if it was as good as you say that a patent for 'Satisfaction' would have returned much more than the $245 that you spent for it.
               If you're going to start living in the real world, maybe you can explain the lack of people applying for Plant Patents if they're the answer you make them out to be. The Plant Patent exists to offer protection to the plant breeder. How come, if you agree that most hybridizers are unhappy with the money they've received for their plants, none, repeat none of them decided to get Plant Patents? It's a system that doesn't work, that's why. Eventually systems that don't work get replaced with ones that do. It has happened in other countries, and sooner or later it will probably happen here.
              I'm not proposing new laws or trying to get them changed. I'm just talking about where things stand today and where they might go in the future. Get a grip. I'm not writing Congress suggesting that they tax you guys more. You know as well as I that if such laws were passed here, you would just pass on the whole price of the royalty to your customers, and that you wouldn't lose any profit along the way. From what I understand, those Breeders' Rights laws make it easy to register your plant, so easy that most people would have no trouble doing it. The situation would change from one in which nobody has a Plant Patent to one in which most people had BR agreements. The hybridizer would have the sort of protection that writers, photographers, artists, musicians, and inventors have. Not the imaginary protection of the current system. The only people who prefer a dog-eat-dog way of doing business are the ones who been able to eat a few dogs along the way.
To Joe Halinar:
             What is happening in the daylily world? Does anyone get Plant Patents? Is there still a market for $100+ plants, or is tissue culture changing the scene as dramatically is it is in hosta?
To Ray Wiegand:
            I don't know how they do it in the countries that have Breeders' Rights laws, but the royalty is probably paid at the wholesale level. That would make the most sense. If a retailer like Chick ordered a flat of your new plant from Q and Z, say, The price he paid would include the royalty which Qand Z would then pay to you.
                                                                                                 ....................Bill Meyer


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.

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. 

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.

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.

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!


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.


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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