Plant Patents

A patent grants assignee the right to protect their intellectual property against infringement. So, what is a plant patent? It is a type of patent that protects your unique discovery in the botanical field. Plant patents usually encompass every kind of plant, including algae and macro-fungus. Having a plant patent will bring you higher profits by protecting your unique discovery from competitors. A plant patent has a validity of 20 years from the date of application.

Read on to find out how to register a plant patent, how long it takes, and the entire field of plant patents.

Who can apply for a plant patent?

  • A plant patent can have two assignees, both the inventor and the one who asexually produced it. 
  • You also can get a plant patent for every co-inventor in your team.
  • Before applying for a plant patent, you must understand that your invention must be distinctive and asexually reproducible. 
  • Asexual reproduction is the bedrock for plant patents, as it the proof that the plant can be duplicated. 
  • Also, note that you can get plant patents only when you have discovered a unique specimen in a cultivated area. 

Plant patents carry a lot of criteria and requirements:

  • Firstly, your discovery must be unique to qualify for a plant patent. 
  • Next, ensure that your asexually reproduced specimen is genetically identical to the original plant.
  • The asexual reproduction can be through root cutting, bulbs, division, grafting, or budding. 
  • Plant patents are also applicable to plants that are natural, bred, or somatic. 
  • If your discovery or invention has a distinctive appearance, then you can also apply for a design patent. 
  • Similarly, you can get a utility patent if you have invented a plant reproduction process, seeds, or a variety of genetically reproduced plants.
  •  You can apply for a design patent and utility patent along with plant patents.

Who cannot get a plant patent?

  • You cannot get a plant patent for plants that are unique only because of their soil type or growing conditions. 
  • You also cannot get a plant patent for some plant types like tuber including, potatoes and Jerusalem artichokes. 
  • Note that your discovery must be from a cultivated area to be eligible for plant patents. 
  • You cannot get a plant patent for plants discovered in an uncultivated state, as they occur freely in nature. 
  • When the assessor identifies an existing version of your specimen, then he/she will spur your application. 

How long a plant is a patent valid?

  • Plant patents can protect the assignee’s discovery from infringement for 20 years from the date of filing.
  • The status of your application becomes public after 18 months of your filing date as a way to enable competitors to stay updated. 
  • Once your plant patent gets expired, the subject of the patent transfers to the public domain.

Framing the specification

While applying for a plant patent, the following arrangement is required in the specification or your application:

  • Title of your invention 
  • Reference to related applications
  • The Latin name of the specimen
  • Variety denomination
  • Background of your invention
  • Summary of the invention
  • Drawings
  • Detailed botanical description
  • Formal claim
  • Abstract of disclosure

The botanical description of your specimen must have the following details:

  • Distinguishing characteristics
  • Genus
  • Species
  • Cultivar name
  • Precocity
  • Botanical characteristics
  • Fertility

How to register a plant patent

Steps for registration:

The registration process is very similar to that of every other patent and comprises five simple steps:

Step: 1 determining the ownership (inventor/ co-inventors):

You can list yourself and your team of co-inventors as the assignees of your patent. This step is crucial because it can bring legal issues in later periods.

Step: 2 determining the eligibility:

Before applying for a plant patent, check if your discovery or invention satisfies all the eligibility criteria set by the authorities. 

Step: 3 determining the patentability:

The following are the four main conditions that you will have to satisfy to get a plant patent:

  • Novelty
  • Asexual reproducibility
  • Non-obviousness
  • Utility

So, check if your discovery or invention satisfies these conditions before applying for a plant patent.

Step:4 Drafting the application:

While applying for a plant patent, you will have to produce a detailed description of the plant’s botanical traits, meticulous drawings of the plant’s features, and other proof of the plant’s distinctiveness. You can include these details in your application form.

Step:5 Applying:

Once you have your application filled out, you will have to consult with a professional patent drafter or an attorney before filling it. You can file your application in the Patent Office of India. 

Plant patent in India

The patent act of India doesn’t allow the patenting of plants, including seeds, new varieties, species, and biological processes for production or propagation of plants. However, you can get a patent on the plant’s genetically modified gene sequence.  

Under India’s patent act, a method of agriculture or horticulture, producing a new form of an existing plant, or any treatment methods are not patentable. 

Frequently Asked Questions:

  1. What is excluded from a plant patent?

Plant patents usually encompass every kind of plant, including algae and macro-fungus. However, bacteria don’t fall under this category. 

2. What are the conditions to get a plant patent?

The following are the four main conditions that you will have to satisfy to get a plant patent:

  • Novelty
  • Asexual reproducibility
  • Non-obviousness
  • Utility

3. What specifications must the drawings contain?

Make sure that your drawings are meticulous, complete, and correctly mounted. It must reasonably correspond with the colors of the plant and have the key characteristics.

4. How many inventors can you list on a patent application? 

You can have as many co-inventors as assignees in your patent application. Make sure that every inventor has contributed to the concept and is listed in the application.

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