There are three different types of patents: Utility, design and plants. Utility is the most common, and a design can sometimes also be protected by a utility patent. An individual can obtain a plant patent to protect a plant that is distinctive and new.
As with other patents, there are a number of steps necessary to obtain a plant patent, and various errors can occur along the way.
Plants that are eligible for a patent
According to the University of Central Florida, the government will grant a patent to an individual who has discovered or invented a new plant variety. The inventor must be able to asexually reproduce the plant by cutting or grafting it. The plant cannot be a tuber-propagated one, nor can it be in an uncultivated state.
A person applying for a plant patent must be the person who invented the plant, the plant must have at least one distinguishing characteristic from other known plants, and the plant must not have been available to the general public before the individual files the application.
The patent process
According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, in order to get patent protection, the inventor must file an application, and the USPTO examiner must approve it. This filing process is not necessarily simple, and an incomplete (including not describing a detailed observation of a minimum of one growth cycle) or informal application may result in a loss of intellectual property protection and rights.
After the filing of the application, an assigned patent examiner will review all aspects of the application. If this individual deems the invention patentable, the plant receives patent protection. A plant patent has a term of 20 years, which begins at the application filing date.