Elements of Intellectual Property Protection in Plant Breeding and Biotechnology: Interactions and Outcomes
Public and private investments in plant breeding have a proven track record of increasing agricultural productivity, significantly contributing to economic well-being or social welfare. Substantial investments in research and development are required before a new plant variety can be developed and released, which the private sector can only recoup through commercial sales coupled with property rights. We previously published outcomes from economic modeling implementing different categories and hypothetical variants of intellectual property protection (IPP) in the field of plant breeding and biotechnology. Our goal here is to portray these outcomes using examples that will be more immediately familiar to the plant-breeding and policy-making communities. In so doing, we do not add to the analyses and arguments already presented. Our objective here is to make more accessible to a broader audience subject matter already presented in a more formal economic format by Lence et al. (2015). We found that plant variety protection (PVP) and utility patents played important and complementary roles in promoting and adopting innovation. Voluntary licensing under patents had a major contribution to social welfare. Periods of protection longer than the current life span of a utility patent did not contribute maximally to the stock of social welfare. We performed a reality check comparing different types of innovation and assessment of time and risk to commercialization. We hope that this information can contribute to more effective implementation of IPP to further promote genetic gain and thus enable commercially funded plant breeders to maximally contribute to the benefit of society on a global basis.
This article is published as Smith, Stephen, Sergio Lence, Dermot Hayes, Julian Alston, and Eloy Corona. "Elements of Intellectual Property Protection in Plant Breeding and Biotechnology: Interactions and Outcomes." Crop Science 56, no. 4 (2016): 1401-1411.doi: 10.2135/cropsci2015.10.0608. Posted with permission.