Many cannabis companies spend significant resources developing new cannabis cultivars or refining popular strain genetics. As they do so, more and more are looking for strategies to protect those investments. Plant patents for purportedly novel cannabis plants are increasingly common, but are plant patents really the best way to protect cannabis genes?
In addition to traditional security measures, there are 3 types of intellectual property available that may be used to protect new cannabis strains: (1) plant patents, (2) utility patents, and (3) the Plant Variety Protection Act. Each option has its own set of benefits and comes with its own particular registration requirements.
Plant patents for cannabis genes
Plant patents are one potential option to protect a newly invented cannabis cultivar. Plant patents can protect new plant varietals that are capable of asexual reproduction.
Cannabis is typically a sexually reproducing plant: both male and female versions can contribute genetic material to offspring (but only female plants produce the cannabinoid-rich flowers in which most people are interested).
Cannabis plants, however, are also relatively easy to reproduce asexually via cloning or cutting. Newly created cannabis strains, whether created accidentally or by intentional crossbreeding, may be therefore eligible for a plant patent