The Plant Patent Act of 1930
The Plant Patent Act’s provisions differ from those for utility patents partly in that the criteria of usefulness does not fully apply. Technological discoveries merit patenting if the inventor can show the demonstrable ability to achieve a reasonable end.
Plant patents can be understood as existing for their own end, in that true and significant genetic uniqueness is the main criteria. The USPTO stipulation that a patented invention be “operative” is transformed in a plant patent to the necessity that it be “found stable by asexual reproduction.”
A plant patent refers to a single breed or genome found in the plant. Mutated versions of the plant or a single specimen’s unique feature, referred to as a sport, will not be protected under the initial plant patent, but must be separately protected. As in other patent law fields, plant patents can belong to multiple people, comprising both those who worked together on the same task or who separately contributed to the invention.
Because the creation of a patentable new plant varieties necessarily involves the production of new “copies” via asexual reproduction, Plant Patent Act provisions specify that people who carry out this task under supervision and without intellectual contribution to the project are not allowed to share in invention rights. The USPTO provides a listing of registered plant patent attorneys.