ANLA, NAPPO testify on plant patent bill

The American Nursery & Landscape Association (ANLA) and the National Association of Plant Patent Owners (NAPPO) testified before Congress on the need to amend the Plant Patent Act. The Society of American Florists (SAF) also endorsed the joint testimony. Craig Regelbrugge, ANLA senior director of government relations and administrator of NAPPO, told the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property that a recent policy shift by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office threatens both domestic and foreign breeders, as well as growers eager for access to new and improved plant varieties.

The Patent Office’s policy shift disrupts the historic process for protecting foreign-developed new varieties in the United States. It has made foreign breeders reluctant to give U.S. counterparts access to these varieties.

“The US Patent & Trademark Office’s abrupt change in its once stable and reliable examination procedure is potentially devastating for the horticulture industry. Our commercial nurseries and plant breeders stand to lose millions of dollars in revenue if the PTO fails to support patents issued prior to the examination guideline change. A legislative proposal is the swiftest way to correct this injustice,” Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) stated.

NAPPO, ANLA and SAF urge Congress to act swiftly and pass H.R. 5119, introduced earlier this summer by Reps. Issa and Sam Farr (D-CA), to make U.S. plant patent law more consistent with the international plant breeders’ rights treaty. More than 12,000 plants have been bred and patented since the inception of the Plant Patent Act in 1930, including fruit trees, grapes and strawberries, roses and other cut flowers, and trees, shrubs and garden plants.

“New varieties are the industry’s lifeblood,” Regelbrugge said. “For 70 years, the U.S. plant patent system has given plant breeders the incentive to develop new plants that offer farmers and the public all manner of benefits. It is urgent that Congress act now to address the disruption created by the PTO’s decision.”

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