You have probably noticed the warning on some rose plant labels that asexual reproduction of the rose is prohibited. This occurs if the rose has a plant patent (pending or granted). Usually, the actual patent number is also part of the label.
Plant patents were first allowed in the United States under the Plant Patent Act of 1930. US law allows those who invent or discover and asexually reproduce “any distinct and new variety of plant, including cultivated sports, mutants, hybrids, and newly found seedlings” to patent the invention.
Patents are granted for 20 years from the date on which the application for the patent was filed in the United States. To find out if and when a particular rose was patented involves several steps.
If you only have the name of the rose, you need to find the patent number. The easiest way to do this is to do a Google search of the rose name and phrase “patent number.” Once you have the patent number, you can determine the date for which a patent was applied by going to http://patft.uspto.gov/netahtml/PTO/srchnum.htm. All this means that one can grow a rose from a cutting if the patent was applied for more than twenty years ago, but one is violating the patent if one makes a cutting of a rose for which the patent was applied for in the last twenty years. Caveat cloner!
This article originally appeared in the September, 2015, issue of The Rose Ette, the newsletter of the Houston Rose Society.
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