Plant patents are under protection, and breeders are fighting for their rights to keep growers from illegally propagating protected varieties. It’s something you don’t want to take a chance on, because the risk is far higher than the reward.
Representatives of major plant brands, including Proven Winners ColorChoice, Encore Azaleas, Endless Summer Collection, First Editions, the Knock Out Family of Roses, Drift Roses, Sunset Western Garden Collection and Southern Living Plant Collection say they are pleased with the results from the Plant Watch nursery inspection program, which expanded into Canada in 2014.
In 2014, more than 300 inspections were carried out from New York to British Columbia and from Ontario to Florida to protect plant patents, Plant Breeders’ Rights (PBR) and branded programs.
“Now that Plant Watch has completed a fourth year of inspections, it is obvious there is greater industry acceptance of brand compliance and plant patent law,” says Natalia Hamill, brand and business development manager at Bailey Nurseries. “The vast majority of growers cooperate with the inspectors. We appreciate all the growers who take the time to become familiar with brand requirements and follow the rules.”
Nurseries across the U.S. and Canada have undergone an inspection by seasoned Plant Watch representatives to document to what degree growers respect patents, PBR and trademarks. It’s expensive to establish a plant brand in the industry. Growers who comply with patent, PBR and branding requirements are at a disadvantage when infringers undercut prices. In order to support their network of compliant growers, Spring Meadow Nursery, Bailey Nurseries, The Conard-Pyle Co. and Plant Development Services Inc. have used Plant Watch services since 2011 to monitor and inspect nurseries and collect fines for unauthorized propagation where warranted.
Plant Watch has a proven track record in the industry, and has successfully intervened with those who have infringed on breeders’ rights to curtail their illegal activities for more than nine years, according to Plant Watch Executive Director, Sylvia Mosterman.
“Our industry has taken a leap forward by putting new varieties in front of consumers with professional marketing,” she says. “Consumer excitement grows for new varieties from trusted brand names. Protecting the investment brand owners make in marketing and product development with nursery inspections makes it more fair for growers who are playing by the rules and ultimately benefits the consumer.”
Nurseries found to be non-compliant are assessed a significant fine based on the number of unauthorized plants discovered, and are required to destroy those plants. Growers are reminded that varieties covered by plant patents and Plant Breeders’ Rights require permission to propagate. The use of trade names such as Wine & Roses weigela and The Knock Out rose is protected.
Plant Watch advises growers, “Be responsible. Ask before you propagate or use a trademark!”
To learn more about the Plant Watch program, visit the Plant Watch website.