U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Rights To Patent Plants

In a historic 6 to 2 ruling, the United States Supreme Court recently upheld the patentability of plants and seed, a ruling that will prove extremely beneficial to the biotechnology industry.

The ruling keeps intact hundreds of patents granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office over the past 17 years. Having spent billions of dollars to genetically modify crops, the U.S. biotechnology industry argued that the patents on these plants were essential to protect their plant modifications.

This ruling represents a significant change from earlier U.S. policy when Congress went to great lengths to keep plants in public hands. In earlier days, farmers were able to save seed for use during the next planting season, even though the seed had inherited special characteristics developed by seed suppliers. Seed companies also weren’t able to stop competitors from using all of the latest research findings.

But the 1985 decision by the patent office to issue utility patents on seed dramatically changed the picture. The original court case argued that the special exemptions created for farmers by Congress in the Plant Variety Protection Act of 1970 made the 1985 patenting of plants illegal. However, this argument didn’t hold up in the lengthy appeals process that eventually led to the Supreme Court ruling.


  • A proposed Environmental Protection Agency rule could make it illegal to spray pesticides when the wind is blowing faster than 10 miles per hour.
  • Earlier this year, the Hungarian Conservation Tillage Association was established. Playing key roles…
To view the full article, please subscribe or login.
 Premium content is for our Digital and Premium subscribers. Please purchase a subscription to get access to all No-Till Farmer content and archives.

Top Articles

Current Issue


No-Till Farmer

Get full access NOW to the most comprehensive, powerful and easy-to-use online resource for no-tillage practices. Just one good idea will pay for your subscription hundreds of times over.

View More

Must Read Free Eguides

Download these helpful knowledge building tools

View More
Top Directory Listings