Explore Plants

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 

Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

rate this answer
1 rating

Thursday - July 12, 2012

From: Lancaster, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Plant Laws
Title: Patenting Flower Mixes
Answered by: Larry Larson

QUESTION:

Can a new, more beautiful combination/mix of certain wild flowers or the new use of some particular wild flowers for a particular style of gardening, e.g. for deer resistance or for alternative lawn or for fragrance or for hummingbird/butterfly be patented?

ANSWER:

Interesting question!   Mr Smarty Plants actually had a talk with the Wildflower Center management about a year ago with respect to that question and Habiturf™ ! [Please insert here the proper disclaimers about this being personal opinion and not legal advice or direction!]

For a concept to be patentable, it needs to be a novel concept, not already in practice, and not immediately obvious to the average practitioner. So, if you really have a special new mix, and it has not been documented as being in use anywhere [an article in a magazine or a journal] - Then, technically:  Yes - You can patent it.  If somebody else has done it, and your documentation precedes theirs [or yours exists and theirs doesn't], then you are still good for it.

There is also the question of "Do you want to?"  It costs money to file and to maintain a patent.  If you are wealthy enough, then of course, a "vanity" patent might be fun, but most patents are filed for commercial purposes.
In this case, once again we get back to dollars - are you prepared to pursue legal defense if you find your patent being violated? - and worse yet, if somebody wants to copy your idea - since you have documented what it is in the patent - all they have to do is modify the mix just a little bit to make it legally different and thus not covered by your patent - Arghhh!

That takes us to the next lower level of protection.  If your invention is easy to hide, many of these are held as "Trade Secrets" [Think - the recipe for Coca-Cola] - or - since a Wildflower mix is pretty easy to figure out, then you can hold the name of it as a Trademark, and have the "real thing" be represented by the name on the product [Think Habiturf™]

Hope this helps!   MSP

 

From the Image Gallery


Curly mesquite grass
Hilaria belangeri

More Plant Laws Questions

Weed laws on mowing wildflowers in the Spring
September 22, 2004 - Is there any law that would prevent a Town from making a person mow their wildflowers down in the spring?
view the full question and answer

Neighborhood association wanting wildflowers mowed from Grand Prairie TX
July 14, 2013 - For at least 15 years, I have been fostering growth of wildflowers in 60% of my 90x400' yard which include 150' utility trunkline easement in which I can plant no trees. This year, we had volunteer ...
view the full question and answer

Sample city ordinances to incorporate into city code
February 13, 2007 - I am looking for a source of sample city ordinances that will allow wildflowers such that we can incorporate it into our city code. My city is rural and per its master visionplan was originally publi...
view the full question and answer

Native plant town ordinances in New Mexico/Chihuahuan Desert
November 17, 2005 - I'm interested in city/town landscape ordinances in the New Mexico/Chihuahuan Desert area. What towns do you think do a good job using native plants?
view the full question and answer

Legal to mow wildflowers in HOA in Royse City, TX
April 21, 2012 - We live out in the country in Rockwall County, Texas. Is it legal to mow the wildflowers on our 2 acre lots? The HOA documents we committed to require the homesites to be maintained, but there is di...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.