Safeguarding intellectual property is important in every sector.
Innovation to Address Current Agri-food Challenges
Plant Breeders’ Rights
Selective crop breeding has driven agriculture for centuries. It can help local food growers build resilience to seasonality and climate change, improve yields and change various characteristics of the final product such as taste, quality and durability. Plant breeders’ rights grant the innovator a 20-year monopoly for protecting new plant varieties.
Agricultural patent filings by Canadians in the US increased three-fold between 2000 and 2018. These patents cover more than just farm equipment as they can also protect optimization and tracking software, software- operated devices, food growth systems and food processing methods.
Innovative software that optimizes irrigation, adapts the distribution chain to current conditions and market trends and uses blockchain technologies to process farming data have been patented. In 2020, the International Patent Classification was expanded to include a class (IPC G16Y 10/05) for agriculture-focused Internet of Things inventions. Even without a computer, an innovator may patent a new growing system that improves yields and reduces overhead. Furthermore, new procedural steps to achieve a desired result may be patented, like better crop-planting methods. The resulting product may also be patented. Agricultural method patent filings in Canada tripled between 2010 and 2019.
It is important for agri-food innovators to generate goodwill with consumers and differentiate their goods and services from their competitors. This can be done through trademarks, which can protect the names for a company and its products and services among other things. Trademarks come in various forms including words, slogans and designs such as the Foodland Ontario logo.
A geographical indication gives food producers the rights to designate products as originating in their region so that consumers know the food they buy is traceable and local. Unlike other IP assets, geographical indications are applied for and held collectively, such as by government or local associations.
Speak to an IP Professional
IP assets grow best when planted right. An experienced IP professional can help evaluate the current IP landscape, craft a holistic IP strategy, pursue appropriate IP assets and guide farm-to-table movement participants through the IP process. With the right support, agri-food innovators can make a valuable difference in Ontario and beyond
3 US Patent 7584023
4 US Patent 5765143
5 US Patent 10491608
6 US Patent 9591814
7 Chinese Patent 103503659