Protection of Plant Varieties and Parts as Intellectual Property

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Science  06 Jul 1984:
Vol. 225, Issue 4657, pp. 18-23
DOI: 10.1126/science.225.4657.18


In view of the Supreme Court decision in Chakrabarty v. Diamond, Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks, it is possible that plant varieties can be protected under three different U.S. statutes: the Plant Variety Protection Act, the Plant Patent Law, and the General Patent Law. The Plant Variety Protection Act protects varieties that are reproduced by seed, whereas the Plant Patent Law protects varieties reproduced asexually. Varieties, irrespective of how they are reproduced, could be patentable under the General Patent Statute. It is not clear whether parts of plants can be protected by grants under the Plant Patent Law or Plant Variety Protection Act and it is possible that they will be best protected under the General Patent Statute and by maintaining them as trade secrets. Only time will show whether the existing statutes are sufficient to provide both guidance and adequate protection or whether changes in the law will be required.