Nov 30, 2020

Plant varieties

Plant varieties are a very niche, but increasingly important, area of intellectual property law. Modification to the genetic makeup of plant varieties can lead to increased crop yields, lower waste, and more efficient farming.

Those modifications don’t always take the shape of genetically modified crops in the well-known sense of scientists interfering with plant DNA in a lab: it is increasingly happening with crop specialists breeding more efficient varieties (sort of like a dog breeder breeding a more capable working dog from existing breeds). The random discovery of plant species is not common, especially in the UK. This week, however, we have seen two announcements of new plant species. An apple, found by Archie Thomas when out for a run, has now been confirmed to be a new variety that seems to have occurred entirely naturally. He has said he will now try to cultivate the species, and, if successful, he will have the right to name it.

The second is not a new variety at all, but the reappearance of a plant variety that has been missing from Norfolk for over a century. Grass–poly is one of the UK’s rarest plants, and was discovered by Professor Carl Sayer when surveying a pond in Hayden, Norfolk in the Spring.

While intellectual property tends to be more concerned with those plants generated intentionally, the propagation of new varieties generally is encouraging for horticulturalists, environmentalists, and scientists alike.

If you have any questions about plant variety rights or any other intellectual property rights, please don’t hesitate to contact the team at McDaniels Law on 0191 281 4000, or by email at

Posted by: Adham Harker in: Legal News, News

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