Intellectual Property Law · Licensing · Technology Innovation

Can you really patent a plant?

On Behalf of | Feb 2, 2022 | Cannabis Law |

When people think of patents, they usually think about physical inventions, such as machines or technological innovations. It makes sense that someone could patent a new type of computer, for instance, or a new design for a car. These types of machines have been created by people, and those who came up with the ideas need to patent them to protect their interests.

But it doesn’t seem as obvious that you could patent a plant. It’s part of the natural world. You can’t claim that you created it, right? And you cannot usually just patent natural phenomena. So, is it ever possible to patent a plant?

Some plants are designed and have a unique genetic makeup

You certainly cannot just go out into nature and patent a plant that you found, of course, and no one really wants to do that. But what you can do, however, is to get a patent for a plant that you’ve created through selective breeding.

There are a few things to check off on your list. First off, it needs to have a unique genetic makeup that sets it apart from other plants, even if they’re similar. This is common in the cannabis industry, as different types of marijuana are grown and used for sales. A superior strain gives your business an edge, and you can patent it if you made that strain.

Additionally, the plant can only reproduce asexually and it must be a unique living organism. Again, this is simply a strain of a naturally occurring plant, but that unique strain may be eligible for a patent in this industry. This is a complicated industry and things are moving quickly, so make sure you know what legal options you have to protect your business.