The Business, Entrepreneurship & Tax Law Review


Justin Brickey


Agricultural seed markets have experienced significant consolidation over the past fifty years, apparently driven by private investment in research and development (“R&D”) made profitable through extensive intellectual property protections. The current intellectual property law regime on plants allows an innovator to obtain a wide variety of protections on new plant varieties, whether created through natural breeding processes or genetic engineering. Investment has paid off and the United States has experienced significant benefits through increased productivity, meaning we produce significantly more food today without using more land than our grandparents. However, agricultural markets deserve, and are often given, unique consideration because of the importance of the product. Competition in these markets may be on the verge of breaking down. This Article explores the background and development of Intellectual Property (“IP”) law as it relates to self-replicating technologies (plants) and speculates on two ways legislators can promote and protect competition without destroying private incentive to innovate: extending research exceptions for universities and banning the development and use of Genetic Use Re-striction Technologies (“GURTs”).

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