Frequently Asked Questions
Q: I’m a plant breeder. Why should I work with Plant Development Services?
A: Plant Development Services assists plant breeders with the many steps required to bring a new plant to consumers in order to gain financial gain for your invention. Steps to bringing a plant to market include evaluation and trialing, patenting and trade marking, marketing and public relations, and selection of a grower group.
Q: How do I submit my new plant for review by Plant Development Services?
A: Submit your new plant here; we require only a few simple pieces of information to begin.
Q: What are the criteria for patenting a plant?
A: When a plant breeder finds or develops a new plant and wants to obtain legal property rights over the plant, Plant Development Services will help them through the plant patenting process. In order to secure the plant patent, the plant must be a new variety that is distinct and different from other plant varieties. It must have been grown in a cultivated area (versus being found in the wild,) and it must be asexually reproducible.
Q: Why patent or trademark a plant?
A: When a plant breeder has gone through all the hard work to cultivate a new plant, they want to reap the benefits of patenting or trademarking. Patents help consumers distinguish one product over another and they offer intellectual property protection for 20 years. Trademarks, on the other hand, are exclusive and offer protection for life. When one chooses to patent or trademark a plant, they are gaining property rights as well as an opportunity to earn more income through the propagation and sale of the plant.
Q: Who can apply for a plant patent?
A: Only the inventor may apply for a plant patent and he/she must sign the patenting application’s oath, or declaration, stating that the plant was found in a cultivated area and the plant is new and reproducible.
Q: How long does it take to have a plant approved for a patent?
A: The plant patent approval process can take anywhere between one to three years, depending on the US Patent and Trademark Office. Plant Development Services will help the new plant breeder through the sometimes-lengthy process, assisting with material/information gathering and questions along the way.
Q: Where do these new plants come from?
A: Anyone from plant breeders and growers to homeowners can discover a new plant. New plants can come from seedlings (hybrids), or a branch sport that appears different from the rest of a plant, or some other variation of the mother plant from the flowers to the leaves. Seeds are especially great because of their genetic variability and the fact that 100 seeds can be planted and the one that performs the best out of the 100 could be patentable.
Q: How does Plant Development Services evaluate a plant?
A: When a breeder brings a new plant to Plant Development Services, we must evaluate the characteristics and performance of the plant. We plant samples of the new variety and watch them grow for at least a year to learn how it responds to the different seasons and to make sure it is distinct and an improvement over other varieties in the marketplace. Since Plant Development Services specializes in innovative plant brands, it’s extremely important that the new plant is special and preferably solves some common landscaping problem -- such as drought and heat resistance, cold hardiness, or extended or enhanced blooming.
Q: How long does it take for Plant Development Services to evaluate a plant?
A: We evaluate a plant for at least one year, but the length of the process varies. In general, the evaluation time is determined by how much information we have, the plants growth characteristics, and the predictability and stability of the plant. If someone else previously evaluated the plant, then our evaluation time may not take as long if the plant is performing as predicted. If we have no information about a plant, then the evaluation time can take much longer. It also depends on the plant’s growth characteristics; for example, a slow growing plant will have a much longer evaluation period than a fast-growing plant. Plant Development Services evaluates a plant until we are sure we are bringing quality and innovation to the marketplace.
Q: How does Plant Development Services select members of its licensed grower groups?
A: Plant Development Services chooses successful growers who have the capacity to contribute quality plants within their market area or region. Growers are selected based on the area they cover, the scope and scale of their operation, and the quality of the product they produce.
Q: What is the process for bringing a plant to market?
A: Before a plant goes to market, it must go through the evaluation process. If the evaluation results prove successful and we deem it an improvement over other plant varieties, then we start the patent or trademark process. After the plant is patent/trademark approved (or while going through the process), plants are produced and propagated to send to the grower group. The grower group then produces the plants that go to retailers.
Additionally, Plant Development Services back its plant introductions with comprehensive marketing and public relations campaigns to ensure the success of the plants at retail. Plant Development Services invests time and resources so that plant breeders can reap true benefits from their inventions.
Q: How do I become a retailer?
A: When a retailer is interested in selling Plant Development Services plant introductions, they can contact our nearest licensed grower group member and purchase plants to resell to the public. Are you a retailer? Find your nearest wholesale grower.
Q: What does PPAF stand for?
A: PPAF stands for Plant Patent Applied For. Plants that are currently going through the patent process can be sold to the public. If a plant is going through the patent process and is available to the public, “PPAF” will appear on the tag after the name of the plant.
Q: Why do we list a common and then a botanical name for each plant?
A: Most people know plants by their common names rather than by their botanical names, however, the botanical name is formal and internationally accepted. While we may commonly refer to a daisy, there are actually several species of daisies and the only way to know which species of daisy is being referenced, we need to know the botanical name. The botanical name has two parts, the first part identifying the genus to which the species belongs and the second part identifying the species within the genus. ‘Leucanthemum vulgare’ is the botanical name for a species of daisy and it explains that this species of daisy is a genus of flowering plants from the sunflower family. By using the botanical name we can avoid the confusion of multiple common names for the same plant.