species names & reg. Trademark?

Kyle Williams kylew1 at JUNO.COM
Mon Feb 3 22:57:52 CST 1997

On Mon, 3 Feb 1997 06:09:45 -0600 "Thomas G. Lammers"
<lammers at FMPPR.FMNH.ORG> writes:
>At 09:00 AM 02-03-97 +0100, Peter Scuchert wrote:
>>dear collegues
>>This weekend I saw on a milk box an advertisement for a dairy product
>>containing Lactobacillus reuteri. Nothing special so far, only the
>>name was followed by an ominous symbol for registered trademark! I
>>horrified. Do I have to patent my newly described animals?
>>Can species names be protected trademarks? I thought that species
>names are
>>the property of all.
>If it is the product of genetic engineering, it may be possible to
>it. The legal precedent is similar to laws that permit copyrighting or
>trademarking names of flowering plant cultivars that are human
>rather than works of nature.  These protections even extend to
>the propagation of plants so covered.

Just a slight correction to the above statement.  The plant patent act
prohibits the asexual propagation of patented plants (without
permission), but propagation from seed is perfectly legal.  Of course,
the genetic makeup of the plant is different and often looks nothing like
the parent (which is why it is allowed).  The patent lasts for 17 years,
after which the plant can be reproduced in any manner you desire.  The
protection extends not only to hybridized or otherwise genetically
engineered plants but to unusual "mutant" forms which may appear in a
nursery or in an agricultural field.  At least as far as plant patents
are concerned no species can be patented, only a cultivar of that

-Kyle Williams
Flora of Pennsylvania Intern
Morris Arboretum and the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia

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