Utility patents have been issued on a wide variety of plant-related inventions, including:
(1) methods of breeding 1 2 plants;
(2) methods for producing transgenic or edited plants, including using CRISPR technologies;
(3) plant parts and products, such as seeds, starches, and gums;
(4) herbal medicines and supplements;
(5) chemicals made by plants, including formulations comprising flavonoids, cannabinoids, alcohols, and resistant starches;
(6) non-naturally occurring amino acid molecules isolated from plants, such as peptides and proteins;
(7) non-naturally occurring nucleic acid molecules isolated from plants;
(8) plant cells, including individual cells and plant tissue cultures;
(9) individual plants, such as inbreds, hybrids, and varieties, whether produced through genetic editing or traditional breeding; and
(10) groups of plants, such as open-pollinated populations and synthetics.
For sexually reproduced plants (those reproduced from seed), protection under the Plant Variety Protection Act (PVPA) is available. See our discussion of the PVPA here. PVPA certificates are issued by the Department of Agriculture, not the Patent Office. A PVPA certificate can provide the owner with 20 years (or 25 years for trees and vines) of exclusive rights to the variety. However, these rights are more limited than those provided by US plant or US utility patents, and there are exemptions and compulsory licensing requirements under the PVPA.
Outside of the US, plant patent protection may be obtained through “Plant Breeder’s Rights” (PBRs). The attorneys at Sierra IP Law have associations with patent attorneys and professionals in several different countries to assist clients in obtaining PBRs in those countries.
Additional information may be obtained from the United States Patent and Trademark Office web site for plant patents.
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