Thursday, July 31, 2014

Plant Patents and Exactly What Are They?

Today it is July, 2014, and as a Patent and Trademark Resource Center (PTRC) librarian, I can share with you the information that many United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and PTRC librarians already know, the only paper patents that we receive at our PTRC's are plant patents. According to the USPTO, due to the nature of color photography, plant patents will probably always remain. Design and utility patents are no longer printed and sent to us in a paper format. Instead, everyone can access them via the web site, or using PubEast or PubWest. All which are accessible at the Saint Louis Public Library PTRC, seven days a week.

"What is a plant patent?" you may ask. Well,  defined by the USPTO, a plant patent is "granted by the Government to an inventor (or the inventor's heirs or assigns) who has invented or discovered and asexually reproduced a distinct and  new variety of plant, other than an edible tuber propagated plant or a plant found in a uncultivated state."

"How long does a plant patent last?" you may wonder. According to the USPTO, "the grant lasts for 20 years from the date of filing the application (or if the application claims priority under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121 or 365(c) to an earlier-filed application, 20 years from the earliest filing date for which a benefit is claimed under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121 or 365 (c))."

Next, you may ask, "What does a plant patent do?"Again, as defined by the USPTO, a plant patent  "... protects the inventor's right to exclude others from asexually reproducing, selling, or using the plant so reproduced or any of its parts throughout the United States, or from importing the plant so reproduced, or any parts thereof.  This protection is limited to a plant in its ordinary meaning:
  •  A living plant organism which expresses a set of characteristics determined by its single, genetic makeup or genotype, which can be duplicated through asexual reproduction, but which can not otherwise be "made" or "manufactured."
  • Sports, mutants, hydrids, and transformed plants are comprehended;  sport of mutants may be spontaneous or induced. Hybrids may be natural, from a planned breeding program,or somatic in source.  While natural, from a planned breeding program, or somatic in source. While natural plant mutants might have naturally occurred, they must have been discovered in a cultivated area.
  • Algae and macro fungi are regarded as plants, but bacteria are not."
Please visit our SLPL PTRC if you are interested to actually see a plant patent. We store all plant patents from the USPTO in our off-site Compton location. Weekly I received brown envelopes from the USPTO filled with newly approved plant patents. After I receive two inches of unbound plant patents, I prepare them into a format that I then send to get bound. It usually takes several weeks before they are returned from the bindery. If there is a specific plant that you are interested to see their plant patent, if there is one, please give me a call at (314) 539-0390, and ask for the Patent and Trademark Librarian and I will try to help you locate one.