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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Plant Patents


Well today Andy brought home some Verbena bonariensis 'Little One', a new dwarf, sterile selection of the normally 5' tall annual (perennial here). The difference is that we 'own' the patent on this plant. I'm generally not a fan of patenting plants, I kinda believe in an open market system with free propagation of all the great stuff out there. Some of the best plants don't get propagated because of licensing rights. But I do realize that with many plants much research, time and effort goes into bringing a plant to market. Since I live in this world and not an ideal one, we went capitalistic. We found this dwarf Verbena in a seed batch we grew several years ago. It's a perfect plant with great proportion, so we decided to go forward with patenting it. We do have bills to pay  after all. My concern was who was growing it, it had a 'Proven Selections' label (with no patent id #) with my name 'Little One'. If I find out they are paying patent rights, well then great, more money for me. (Trust me it's not that much). My concern is that in the past The Proven Winners/ Proven Selection people have been not so trustworthy, I've been told by other growers. They are excellent business people, focused on advertising, but they are very aggressive at acquiring new plants, sometimes 'stealing' peoples plants, renaming them and patenting them themselves. The bigger issue for me is I see lots of 'PW' plants in local nurseries, and even though they say what they grow is proven for any region, I see lots of plants, like Heucheras, that do not do well here at all. People then kill their plants and think that gardening is hard and then give up. I know the local growers choose the plants to grow, but we just need to do a better job of empowering people as new gardeners. I personally grow plants that love our climate, and that are easy to grow. And 'easy' doesn't mean boring, more next time. tom