The field of agriculture is full of opportunities for innovation. The creation and development of many agricultural products and inventions has helped the agricultural sphere advance in many different ways. In many instances, these products and inventions can receive protection through a patent. As global agricultural production continues to increase, the necessity of agricultural patents will continue to increase.
Some examples of agricultural patents include those for crop varieties, agricultural processes and products, plant transformation methods, and certain vectors and genes. Several jurisdictions also permit the patenting of transgenic plants. Agricultural patents are some of the most important patents in the world. This is because items protected by these patents play important global and societal roles.
The Role and Increase of Agricultural Patents
Patented items do not only accelerate the pace of agricultural innovation. They also provide understanding about the development of agricultural technology while providing assistance pertaining to the inventive process to businesses, academic institutions, and governments. It has been proven that a more rigorous review process causes the level of agricultural innovation through patents to increase.
In recent years, the number of agricultural patents which have received approval around the world has increased dramatically. This figure is expected to continue rising in the coming years. The identification of emerging agricultural trends, the monitoring of agricultural expert groups or start-ups, and the extraction of features from patents to determine trends in global agricultural product development are expected to contribute to the continued increase of agricultural patents.
Patents for Plants and Plant Traits
Many agricultural patents are used to protect plants and the primary traits of the plants. These patents provide owners with the exclusive rights to breed, grow, and sell the plants in question. Most of these plant patents protect plants with characteristics such as resistance to the effects of climate change or disease. Such a step is usually taken by agricultural companies. By preventing any external entities from benefiting from the growing and commercialization of those plants, the companies will be able to maximize their revenue.
A plant which is patented does not have to be either natural or bred. Those which are formed through the use of non-reproductive plant cells are also eligible for patent protection. All plants to be patented must be capable of reproduction; the result of the reproduction must also be genetically identical to the original plant. Plants and plant traits which solely derive their unique characteristics from either soil fertility or growing conditions cannot be patented because these characteristics exist due to happenstance, not the owner’s deliberate actions and effort.
Patents and Crop Protection Products
Many products used for the protection of crops can benefit from a patent. Examples of crop protection products which are often patented include fungicides, insecticides, biologicals, harvest aids, and herbicides. Formulations, mixtures, and processes which are also used to preserve the condition of crops may also be patented. Both large agricultural companies and individual farmers make use of these patented items because they add value to the crop yield while also mitigating the risk of crop damage.
The most important parts of any crop protection products are their active ingredients. Although active ingredients are crucial to the function of crop protection products, their development requires the expense of enormous amounts of time and money. Therefore, one key reason why agricultural companies apply for patents is to recoup this massive financial investment. Additionally, the process of manufacturing these active ingredients is also frequently patented in order to further protect the active ingredients.
The Importance of Agricultural Patents to the World
Agricultural patents are of tremendous global importance. Some patented crop varieties play key roles in saving lives by fending off starvation and malnutrition. These crop varieties are specifically bred to generate larger yields or contain larger volumes of vital nutrients. When certain pesticides are patented and made available to the mass market, they will be more widely used to guard plants from disease. This in turn has a positive effect on human health because some human diseases can be spread by plant pathogens.
Patents can also help farmers and agricultural companies grow crops in a more environmentally sustainable manner. Without certain patented innovations, the planting and growing of certain crops might require the use of far more water or generate much larger amounts of carbon. These environmentally-friendly innovations prevent these problems from occurring without compromising either the quality or the volume of the crop yield.
This article is brought to you by Exy Intellectual Property Malaysia and Singapore.