In the days when ornamental breeding was heavily on the seed side, breeders who belonged to Fleuroselect were held to an agreement, which was not enforced by law, but rather by more of a mutual respect for one another’s efforts. The organization still oversees this membership and code of ethics for breeders of sexually propagated plants, and many breeders say this model is an ideal example of what they’d like to see happen for industry-led regulation of vegetatively propagated material.
According to Fleuroselect, breeders can enter their newest varieties into the Gold Medals and Approved Novelty Trials, where entries are evaluated versus existing comparison varieties by expert and independent judges on criteria including innovation, practical use, floriferousness, and garden performance. The Fleuroselect Gold Medal is awarded to new varieties that surpass existing varieties in terms of breeding innovation and beauty. Meanwhile, new varieties granted Fleuroselect’s Approved Novelty status are recognized as new and different versus existing cultivars, and are protected by the membership from reproduction by a “gentleperson’s agreement” that insists that breeders abstain from using that material to breed from, or to create a copy. Through breeders’ exemption, they may buy the ability to breed with the variety. Novelty protection can be purchased for 8, 15, 20, or 25 years.
Another international organization, CIOPORA works toward the constant development and enhancement of systems of intellectual property protection for plant innovation, which include Plant Breeders’ Rights, patents, plant patents, and trademarks. Many breeders are part of the organization currently, and with its ongoing efforts to harmonize national and international regulations of Plant Variety Protection, it’s essential that all vegetative ornamental breeders should be part of the discussion, according to Danziger Vice President Chanochi Zaks.
Read the “Plant Patent Law: Protecting the Variety Pipeline” to learn why breeders feel these organizations should be emulated in an industry-led initiative to protect plant breeding efforts, and see “Are Utility Patents Tying Up Innovation With Litigation?” for some perspective on how plant patents affect plant businesses in all links of the variety supply chain, from breeding to retail..