Is Your Seed Protected?

We believe education is a foundation of transparency, therefore we work to educate members, the industry, growers and the community at large on the benefits of seed innovation and rights and responsibilities of intellectual property owners concerning seeds and traits, including patents, plant variety protection, plant breeders’ rights, trademarks, and copyrights.

How do you know if your seed may be protected?

There are multiple sources of information to help you:

  • Talk to your seed dealer
  • Check the bag and tag labeling
  • Refer to your limited use/technology use agreement
  • Consult seed company website
  • Contact the seed company

Basics of Protecting Innovation

The U.S. affords a variety of mechanisms for the protection of innovation including: Utility Patents, Plant Patents, Plant Variety Protection (“PVP”), Trademarks, Copyrights and licensing. Information on the basics of these mechanisms can be found in the accordians below.

Patents

What is a patent?

A property right to “exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the invention throughout the United States or importing the invention into the United States.”

View the Patent Law 35 USC 154

 

What is patentable subject matter?

  • Processes
  • Machines
  • Articles of manufacture
  • Compositions of matter
  • Improvements of any of the above

 

What must you have to get a patent?

  • Must be novel
  • Nonobvious
  • Adequately described or enabled (for one of ordinary skill in the art to make and use the invention)
  • Claimed by the inventor in clear and definite terms

 

Kinds of patents in the US?

Utility

  • A new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or a new and useful improvement
  • Term is 20 years from earliest priority date (the date at which the first application is filed)

 

Plant

  • A new and distinct, invented or discovered asexually reproduced plant
  • Term is 20 years from earliest priority date (the date at which the first application is filed)

 

Design

  • New, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture
  • Term is 14 years from the date of patent grant

*** The Seed Innovation and Protection Alliance is not a law firm and does not provide legal advice. Information provided on this website is for educational purposes only.

US Plant Variety Protection (PVP)

What is Plant Variety Protection?

A property right for seed propagated varieties and lines which regulated and issued by the USDA Plant Variety Protection Office. See the Plant Variety Protection Act (7 U.S.C. 2321 et seq.)

 

What can be protected?

Any sexually reproduced or tuber-propagated plant

 

Novelty requirements?

Seed of the variety must not have been sold, offered or advertised for sale for more than 1 year in the US prior to the date filing for a US PVP.  If seed has only been sold outside the US, you have 4 years from the first sale in a country outside the US for most crops, and 6 years from the first sales in a country outside the US for a tree or vine

 

Application requirements?

A detailed description of the characteristics of the subject plant and seed, statistical analyses derived from trial data from multiple locations and years, the requisite PVP forms, and a seed deposit

*** The Seed Innovation and Protection Alliance is not a law firm and does not provide legal advice. Information provided on this website is for educational purposes only.

Licencing

Numerous types of licenses/agreements are used in relation to seed innovations, including but not limited to:

  •  Confidentiality (CDA)/Non-Disclosure (NDA)
  • Material Transfer (MTA)
  • Research
  • Production/Propagation
  • Commercialization
  • Marketing
  • Sales

SIPA provides it’s members with educational materials to assist in the development, implementation and management of all types of licenses and agreements related to seed innovations.

Trademarks

What is a Trademark?

  • A trademark is a word, symbol, sound or device, which serves to indicate the source of plants, fruit or other products or services.
  • United States trademark law is based upon the Lanham Trademark Act of 1947 which provides the owner of a trademark the right to prevent others from using the same or a confusingly similar mark for the same or similar goods or services.
  • A trademark allows a consumer to know where a particular product or service is coming from. By allowing a consumer to identify the source of the goods or service, a good and recognizable trademark can allow a consumer to distinguish the quality of similar goods or services.
  • The use of the TM symbol indicates that a company is claiming ownership of a trademark, while the use of the ® symbol indicates that the trademark has been registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office or another international trademark authority.

*** The Seed Innovation and Protection Alliance is not a law firm and does not provide legal advice. Information provided on this website is for educational purposes only.

Copyrights

What is a copyright?

Works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression.

 

Examples of Copyrighted Materials?

  • Books
  • Songs
  • Paintings
  • Sculptures
  • Software

 

Term?

  • Varies, however it usually is 70 years after the death of author.
  • If a work of corporate authorship, 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation, whichever expires first.
    What is a copyright?

*** The Seed Innovation and Protection Alliance is not a law firm and does not provide legal advice. Information provided on this website is for educational purposes only.

Trade Secrets

A trade secret is information a company keeps secret to give an advantage over competitors. It must have these elements:

  • Has potential or actual economic value
  • Not generally known to public
  • Reasonably protected

Varietal Protection

Specific varieties, characteristics and improvements in plant varieties may be protected by one or more U.S. patents.

Soybean Protection

Intellectual Property Protection For Soybeans

Intellectual property (IP) protection allows developers of new plant varieties and improved seeds to recoup their investment, while also allowing for the development of new varieties and improvements for the benefit of growers and consumers.

 

Patents with Claims to a Variety

The genetics of soybean varieties may be protected by one or more U.S. patents.

  • U.S. patent holder can prevent others from making, using, offering for sale, and selling, or importing the claimed invention in the United States.
  • Breeding and certain research activities are prohibited.

 

Plant Variety Protection

The genetics of many soybean varieties may also be protected by U.S. Plant Variety Protection (PVP).

  • The protected variety may be used for certain plant breeding activities.
  • Unauthorized reproduction of the protected variety is strictly prohibited.
  • Infringing activities include, but are not limited to, selling, marketing, offering for sale, importing, exporting, producing and reproducing the protected variety.

 

Patents with Claims to Characteristics and Improvements

Specific characteristics and improvements in soybean varieties may be protected by one or more U.S. patents.

  • Examples of characteristics or improvements may include: resistance to disease, resistance to plant pests, breeding techniques, improved nutritional aspects and flavor enhancement.

 

How do you know if the seed may be protected?

  • Talk to your seed dealer
  • Check the bag and tag labeling
  • Refer to the limited use/technology use agreement
  • Consult seed company website
  • Patent protection information may not always be provided

These examples may be found printed on the bag, labels or company websites

 

Feel Good About Buying Seed

By buying seed, you are investing in the future of soybean by putting money back into soybean research, which leads to:

  • Increased Performance
  • Improved Purity
  • Higher Farm Profitability

Vegetable Protection

Intellectual Property Protection For Vegetables

Intellectual property (IP) protection allows developers of new vegetable varieties and improved seeds to reinvest in research and continue to provide improvements that benefit growers and consumers.

 

Limited Use License

The genetics of many vegetable varieties may be protected by contract.

Limited use agreements between farmer and breeder specify that seed from the variety can only be used to produce one (1) commercial crop and can not be used or provided to any party for crop breeding, research or seed production.

 

Plant Variety Protection

The genetics of many vegetable varieties may be protected by U.S. Plant Variety Protection (PVP).

  • The protected variety may be used for certain plant breeding activities.Unauthorized reproduction of the protected variety is strictly prohibited.
  • Unauthorized reproduction of the protected variety is strictly prohibited.
  • Infringing activities include, but are not limited to, selling, marketing, offering for sale, importing, exporting, producing and reproducing the protected variety.
  • Those who infringe the rights of a PVP protected variety may be liable for damages up to three times the amount of the reasonable royalty of the PVP holder as well as additional state statutory damages.

 

Patents

Specific varieties, characteristics and improvements in vegetable varieties may be protected by one or more U.S. patents.

  • A U.S. patent holder can prevent others from making, using, offering for sale, and selling, or importing the claimed invention in the United States.
  • Examples of characteristics or improvements may include: specific varieties, resistance to disease, resistance to plant pests, breeding techniques, improved nutritional aspects and flavor enhancement.Those who save patented seed risk:
  • Those who save patented seed risk:
  1. Lost profits
  2. Seizure or destruction of crops
  3. Liability for damages to the patent holder.

How do you know if the seed may be protected?

  • Talk to your seed dealer
  • Check the bag and tag labeling
  • Refer to the limited use/technology use agreement
  • Consult seed company website
  • Patent protection information may not always be provided

These examples may be found printed on the bag, labels or company websites

 

Feel Good About Buying Seed

By buying seed, you are investing in the future of vegetables by putting money back into vegetable research, which leads to:

  • Increased Performance
  • Improved Seed Quality
  • Higher Farm Profitability

Wheat Protection

Intellectual Property Protection For Wheat

Intellectual property (IP) protection allows developers of new wheat varieties and improved seeds to recoup their investment, while also allowing for the development of new varieties and improvements for the benefit of growers and consumers.

 

Limited Use License

The genetics of many wheat varieties may be protected by contract.

Many limited use agreements between farmer and breeder require that seed from the variety can only be used to produce one (1) commercial crop for grain or forage and can not be used or provided to any party for crop breeding, research or seed production.

 

Plant Variety Protection

The genetics of many wheat varieties may be protected by U.S. Plant Variety Protection (PVP).

  • The protected variety may be used for certain plant breeding activities.
  • Unauthorized reproduction of the protected variety is strictly prohibited.
  • Infringing activities include, but are not limited to, selling, marketing, offering for sale, importing, exporting, producing and reproducing the protected variety.
  • Those who infringe the rights of a PVP protected variety may be liable for damages up to three times the amount of the reasonable royalty of the PVP holder as well as additional state statutory damages.

 

Patents

Specific varieties, characteristics and improvements in wheat varieties may be protected by one or more U.S. patents.

  • A U.S. patent holder can prevent others from making, using, offering for sale, and selling, or importing the claimed invention in the United States.
  • Examples of characteristics or improvements may include: specific varieties, resistance to disease, resistance to plant pests, breeding techniques, improved nutritional aspects and flavor enhancement.
  • Those who save patented seed risk:
  1. Seizure/destruction of crops
  2. Loss of grower license for future purchase of patented seed products
  3. Liability for damages to the patent holder

How do you know if the seed may be protected?

  • Talk to your seed dealer
  • Check the bag and tag labeling
  • Refer to the limited use/technology use agreement
  • Consult seed company website
  • Patent protection information may not always be provided

These examples may be found printed on the bag, labels or company websites

 

Feel Good About Buying Seed

By buying seed, you are investing in the future of wheat by putting money back into wheat research, which leads to:

  • Increased Performance
  • Improved Purity
  • Higher Farm Profitability

Become a SIPA Member

The Seed Innovation and Protection Alliance is established to promote the understanding and value of seed innovations as well as to facilitate and promote the respect of intellectual property rights for the benefit of members, growers, industry associates, consumers and the agricultural community.

Inquire About SIPA Membership