It takes years to breed a new plant variety—a painstaking process that includes hybridizing, growing, trialing, selecting and then repeating those steps several times.
But since hemp was legalized through the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp plant breeders have unprecedented new options to protect their plant genetics from those who would attempt to capitalize on years of hard work.
Hemp farmers need varieties designed to grow in their specific climates and with unique traits suited to their end customers. With this in mind, plant breeders are developing new hemp varieties selected for specific growing regions and adding traits such as disease resistance and new combinations of cannabinoids.
With all the work that goes into identifying traits, hybridizing new varieties and building up a supply of genetics for the marketplace, breeders must protect their work to ensure they receive payments associated with their genes, traits and varieties.
Breeders have a few options to get that protection, so it helps to be familiar with the types of patents available. In the United States, breeders can seek:
Plant variety protection.
Plant Variety Protection
This type of patent protection was off-limits to cannabis breeders until hemp was legalized in last year’s Farm Bill.
That’s when the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) opened its Plant Variety Prote