Did Plant Patents Create the American Rose?

40 Pages Posted: 2 May 2011  

Petra Moser

Leonard N. Stern School of Business - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Paul W. Rhode

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); University of Arizona

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Date Written: April 2011

Abstract

The Plant Patent Act of 1930 was the first step towards creating property rights for biological innovation: it introduced patent rights for asexually-propagated plants. This paper uses data on plant patents and registrations of new varieties to examine whether the Act encouraged innovation. Nearly half of all plant patents between 1931 and 1970 were for roses. Large commercial nurseries, which began to build mass hybridization programs in the 1940s, accounted for most of these patents, suggesting that the new intellectual property rights may have helped to encourage the development of a commercial rose breeding industry. Data on registrations of newly-created roses, however, yield no evidence of an increase in innovation: less than 20 percent of new roses were patented, European breeders continued to create most new roses, and there was no increase in the number of new varieties per year after 1931.

Suggested Citation

Moser, Petra and Rhode, Paul W., Did Plant Patents Create the American Rose? (April 2011). NBER Working Paper No. w16983. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1825765

Petra Moser (Contact Author)

Leonard N. Stern School of Business - Department of Economics ( email )

269 Mercer Street
New York, NY 10003
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Paul W. Rhode

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill - Department of Economics ( email )

Chapel Hill, NC 27599
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

University of Arizona

Tucson, AZ 85721
United States

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