A plant patent is granted by the Government to an inventor (or to the inventor’s heirs or assigns) who has invented or discovered and asexually reproduced a distinct and new variety of plant, other than a tuber propagated plant or a plant found in an uncultivated state. The grant, which lasts for 20 years from the date of filing the application, protects the inventor’s right to exclude others from asexually reproducing, selling, or using the plant so reproduced. 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, hybrids, and transformed plants are comprehended; sports or mutants may be spontaneous or induced. Hybrids may be 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.
The information presented in this publication is tailored to apply to and is limited to patents on asexually reproduced plants. While the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) does accept utility applications having claims to plants, seed, genes, etc., such practice is beyond the scope of this publication.