Since 1930, the United States has offered plant breeders legislative protection for their new varieties. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office maintains an excellent website at www.uspto.gov.
For general guidance:
A breeder may claim a Plant Patent by declaring that he is the “inventor” or “discoverer” of a new and distinct cultivated variety of plant which has also been asexually reproduced. If granted, a U.S. Plant Patent endures for 20 years from date of filing of application. During this time, the breeder may exclude others from propagating the variety or from selling or using the variety without the breeder’s prior authority.
A patentable variety must have been asexually propagated and exactly reproduced.
Sports are not covered by the parent’s patent, but may be patentable in their own right.
Ordinarily, a patent application must be filed within one year of the first sale anywhere in the world if, as would be usual, there has also been a description of the variety in a printed publication.
Unlike Plant Breeders Rights systems in most other countries, an application for a U.S. Plant Patent does not require the submission of a plant or plants for testing.