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Plant breeders should consider several factors when securing intellectual property protections for novel plant varieties. Key considerations include how the new variety is produced (asexually or sexually) and the kinds of activities the owner is trying to stop others from doing with the new variety. The scope and nature of these protections vary, so it is important for breeders to do their research when pursuing the available options.

Panitch Schwarze attorney Travis W. Bliss, Ph.D. authored an article in Floraculture International outlining the various protections available for novel plant varieties. Bliss identifies three variety rights options: Plant Patents, Utility Patents, and Plant Variety Protection (PVP) Certificates.

Plant Patents are available only to plant varieties that are reproduced asexually and allow the holder to stop others from reproducing or selling the variety. Utility Patents can be used to protect both asexually and sexually reproduced varieties and prohibit others from breeding with the variety or creating a modified version of it. PVP Certificates can protect asexually and sexually reproduced varieties, and they can prohibit others from reproducing or selling the variety. However, PVPs cannot stop someone from breeding with the variety.

Bliss notes that these protections are not mutually exclusive; they can be combined to ensure more robust protection. It is important for breeders to understand the kinds of protections available for their plant varieties, as well as their goals for securing IP rights. With a carefully developed strategy, breeders can build a strong “IP fence” of protections that serves their needs.

Read the full article here: “Choosing the Best Plant Variety Rights in the USA: Which Options Are Right for You?” (Pages 20-21)

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