Posted on

are cannabis seeds patented

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has already issued several patents for specific kinds of cannabis (most recently one for a variety of high-CBD hemp), and for more wide-ranging “utility patents,” but so far they’ve gone unenforced and even unnoticed.

That won’t continue much longer.

In patent law, every week is shark week

Holmes coaxed growers into having their heirloom genetics sequenced—and pay for the privilege.

In September 2014, Crawford was serving on the Oregon Medical Marijuana Advisory Board, and also teaching at Oregon State University. After reading an article in The Oregonian that profiled Phylos, he got in touch and arranged for a tour of their lab.

‘So, you stole the genetics I paid you to test?’

According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, you can patent asexually reproduced plants if they possess certain characteristics due to their genetics or if they’re a hybrid version of a different plant. According to one Reuters report, 39 cannabinoid-related patents were filed in 2018. Cannabinoids are the compounds found in weed that vary from strain-to-strain.

Specific types of hemp create stronger, longer lasting fiber.

Since the 1960s, plant breeders can have exclusive control over a new variety of a plant they create for twenty years following a submission to the plant variety office. Control over everything from seeds to cuttings is given to that breeder for that period of time if that office decides that their plant is genetically or physically distinct. As a result, plant breeders’ can technically have unique rights to the cannabis seeds they breed.

Plant breeders’ rights

Regular: These contain both male and female plants, meaning that half of the plants will not flower. This kind requires more light to begin flowering.

Plants can be genetically altered for shorter, better yields.

Marijuana law remains hazy. Today, an increasing number of companies are patenting weed technology, seeds, and the hottest cannabis products. But whether those patents are enforceable, and where they are enforceable within the U.S., remains to be seen.

In the U.S., you can also patent genetic varieties of any plant. This includes cannabis seeds. Though the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is federal, it operates independently of other government agencies. This means that you can patent weed strains, and many companies have done so already.

Patents are expensive, but valuable. It works like this: First, an inventor files an application, in which they must provide details on four sets of criteria:

While patenting plants has become the standard in the US and to some extent Europe, it remains controversial globally. The vast majority of drugs or drug compounds available on the market are mimicked or derived from active plant compounds already in use by humans, particularly those in tropical and subtropical regions with high biodiversity and a historical culture of herbalism.

How A Patent Works

The effects of these patents on the cannabis industry still remain to be seen.

The idea that a company like Monsanto or BioTech could snatch up patents before cannabis is federally legal worried Holmes in particular enough to do something to stop it, and so the Open Cannabis Project (OCP) was born. According to the OCP website:

Because of this threat, the OCP has made it a goal to work to bring cannabis growers, breeders and labs together to open source genetic and chemical data about the varieties they are growing. The database OCP has built is in its early stages, but is already providing the hard proof of prior use needed to prevent patents on commonly used clones, seed families, and otherwise patentable plant material emerging from the illegal market.