Frequently Asked Questions
How can you be realistic as a plant breeder?
Be patient. The average time it takes from the first flower you see on a new hybrid to release on the market is about 5-10 years. Don’t go into this expecting quick cash, you will only be disappointed. A good partner in marketing plants will give you the common timelines for introduction, steps along the way, explain what is and isn’t of value in the industry, and provide the marketing and promotion for the success of a new crop.
What types of plant breeding and selection are there?
Breeding, random chance, sports, chemical mutation: All of these represent patentable options for a new plant, but each also has some pros and cons. Again, it is important to know the meaning of these terms and discuss with someone how you should best proceed.
What is a breeder’s agent and do I need one?
In the release process every connection you can make has value, this industry is a small one and everyone knows one another at some level. A plant breeder’s agent ideally is someone who will help you find the right place for your plant, and handle all the details of patenting and release for you. However an agent is essentially a middleman, who adds a charge to your royalty, and as such can be a less interesting option when you are dealing with larger horticultural firms. The key advantage to an agent is that they can shop your innovation to a number of potential outlets. However, larger companies prefer ultimately to work directly with the breeder directly since it saves them the agency fee. An agent can be a good partner or teacher, but they are not required.
What is involved with a trial agreement? And who should I trial with?
As the owner of your hybrid, you can trial with anyone; you can trial with one company or several. However, ANY trial requires a trial agreement. This a relatively simple documents that states that you are the owner of this plant, you retain all rights to the plant, no breeding with or mutating with your plant is allowed, and the plants must either be returned to you or destroyed at the end of the trial. Most trial agreements last 2 years or more. For more on trial agreements just contact us! For more info on trial agreements click here.
How do I know if I want to patent or trademark my plant?
A key question and you don’t have to patent or trademark a plant to claim a royalty for a plant; many plants are not patentable but still can give the breeder a voluntary royalty. Legally you need a patent for protecting the plant, and a trademark for protecting a marketing name. A trademark will not protect a plant, only the name it is sold under. For more info on trademarks & patents click here.
What is a royalty?
A royalty is essentially an agreed upon amount that is paid back to the plant breeder or plant finder for every plant sold. The amount of the royalty varies by the kind of plant sold. An annual plant usually has a royalty around 3 cents per plant sold, a perennial plant about 8 cents, and in woody shrubs and trees royalties may be 1 dollar or more. All royalties are negotiated before the plant goes to market. For more info on royalties click here.
How can you learn more?
BE PROACTIVE - Talk to other plant breeders and see what they have learned, contact different plant breeder agents and have them explain how they work, contact larger companies in horticulture and learn how they work with plant breeders. To learn how Proven Winners works with plant breeders, contact us!