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The University of Massachusetts Amherst


About Plant Patents

Plant patent with icon and examples

A plant patent may be granted to anyone inventing or discovering and asexually reproducing any distinct and new variety of plant. This includes cultivated sports, mutants, hybrids, and newly found seedlings, other than a tuber-propagated plant or a plant found in an uncultivated state.

Asexually propagated plants are those reproduced by means other than from seeds, such as by the rooting of cuttings, layering, budding, grafting, inarching, etc.

Examples of plant patents by UMass are USPP18177P3 Cactaceae plant named 'Harmony'; and USPP22085P3 Cactaceae plant named Gail Glazier.

An application for a plant patent consists of the same parts as other applications. The term of a plant patent is 20 years from the application filing date in the United States, or if the application contains a specific reference to an earlier-filed application under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121 or 365(c), from the date the earliest such application was filed.

The filing and issue fees on plant applications can be found in the fee schedule. For a qualifying small entity, most fees are cut by half (35 U.S.C. 41[h][1]). For a qualifying micro entity (37 CFR 1.29), most fees are reduced by 80%. Plant patent applications may be published pursuant to Title 35, U.S. Code, Section 122(b), but the fee is not reduced for small entities.

The Plant Variety Protection Office (PVPO) provides intellectual property protection to breeders of new varieties of sexually reproduced, tuber propagated, and asexually reproduced plant varieties. With reference to tuber propagated plants, for which a plant patent cannot be obtained, the term "tuber" is used in its narrow horticultural sense as meaning a short, thickened portion of an underground branch. Such plants covered by the term "tuber propagated" are the Irish potato and the Jerusalem artichoke. This exception is made because this group alone, among asexually reproduced plants, is propagated by the same part of the plant that is sold as food.  

The genes, traits, and parts of a plant, as well as varieties, may also be protected with a utility patent.

The elements of the plant application, if applicable, should appear in this order:

  1. Plant application transmittal form (access form)
  2. Fee transmittal form (access form)
  3. Application data sheet (see § 1.76) (more details)
  4. Specification (more details)
  5. Drawings (in duplicate) (more details)
  6. The inventor's oath or declaration (§ 1.162) (more details)

For more detail, see the publication General information about 35 U.S.C. 161 plant patents and MPEP § 1600.

Plant Patent Space

Visit the Plant Patent Space located in the Science & Engineering Library 3rd floor to access the plant patents in paper format. 

Plant Patent Database

The University of Maryland Plant Patent Database contains color images for US Plant patents, with links to the U.S.Patent and Trademark Office: