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Did Plant Patents Create the American Rose?

Did Plant Patents Create the American Rose?

Chapter:
(p.413) 8 Did Plant Patents Create the American Rose?
Source:
The Rate and Direction of Inventive Activity Revisited
Author(s):
Moser PetraPaul W. Rhode
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226473062.003.0012

This chapter considers the impact of formal intellectual property rights—specifically, the Plant Patent Act of 1930—on innovation. An important element of the analysis is the ability to distinguish between the impact of the Act on patenting (which of course increased) versus the impact on innovation (which is measured in terms of new rose registrations). After 1930, the number of registrations by American nurseries actually fell, and European nurseries accounted for an increasing share of new rose registrations. Instead of increasing the rate of innovation, it seems that the Plant Patent Act may have had the consequence of increasing the relative importance of commercial nurseries relative to hobbyists in the American industry and spurred the use of patents as a defensive and strategic tool in the context of litigation. There are important nonpecuniary motivations on the part of (at least an important group of) innovators in this area; prior to the Plant Patent Act, both hobbyists and public sector breeders played an important role in establishing distinctive American rose varieties, but their role was diminished thereafter.

Keywords:   plant patents, intellectual property rights, innovation, commercial nurseries

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