Plant Breeders and Intellectual Property

Kyle Peveto

Plant breeders who develop new crop varieties are among the most successful inventors at the LSU AgCenter. These researchers stay in tune with the needs of growers across the region and constantly work to meet their needs.

“They’re good at the science, and they are good at having their fingers on the pulse of the plant world,” said Dirk Benedict, assistant director of technology marketing for the AgCenter Office of Sponsored Programs and Intellectual Property.

When plant breeders create new varieties that could have commercial success, they contact the Office of Sponsored Programs and Intellectual Property. The office will assess the variety, examining whether it has potential to attract companies that might wish to mass produce seeds or plants and market them to customers. If it has potential, the office works with the breeder to file a patent to protect the invention.

“New varieties are tested in real-world conditions and the results have been replicated, so they are usually very strong patent-wise as well,” Benedict said. “It’s usually not too hard to go for a patent because they are distinct and have distinguishing characteristics.”

Once a patent is secured, the Office of Sponsored Programs and Intellectual Property will discuss with potential partners interested in marketing the invention.

“What makes or breaks it is the business side, whether or not they have good contacts, or we find good contacts and whether or not the plant is going to generate the sort of acreage for farmers that they are going to value,” Benedict said.

After a commercial partner successfully markets a variety created by an AgCenter researcher, the company will share a percentage of the revenue with the AgCenter. The Office of Sponsored Programs and Intellectual Property ensures that the payment is correct and manages the distribution of the revenue. The end result is significant financial support for the breeding program and ensures the program will endure.

Kyle Peveto is an assistant specialist, LSU AgCenter Communications.

(This article appears in the spring 2021 issue of Louisiana Agriculture.)

5/31/2021 9:10:58 PM
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