Different from a tuber propagated plant or a plant found in an uncultivated state, a plant patent refers to a plant that is invented or discovered and asexually reproduced, and is granted patent by the USPTO. The patent lasts for 20 years from the date of filing the application. For other types of plants, such as seeds or genes, they can be protected under Utility Patents by the USPTO, as long as the plants have utility functions.
One special aspect of a plant patent is that the inventor must not only invent or discover the plant, but also asexually reproduce the plant. Asexual reproduction is the propagation of a plant without the use of fertilized seeds to assure an exact genetic copy of the plant being reproduced. In other words, it is cloning the original plant. Some but not all methods of asexual reproduction include rooting cuttings, tissue culture, and bulbs.
Plant patents do not require a maintenance fee from the patent holder to stay in force for the entire 20-year period.
Check here for more information on plant patents by USPTO.
[Last updated in November of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]