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Did Plant Patents Create the American Rose?

In: The Rate and Direction of Inventive Activity Revisited

  • Petra Moser
  • Paul W. Rhode

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.

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This chapter was published in:
  • Josh Lerner & Scott Stern, 2012. "The Rate and Direction of Inventive Activity Revisited," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number lern11-1, June.
  • This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 12362.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:12362
    Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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    1. Petra Moser & Alessandra Voena, 2012. "Compulsory Licensing: Evidence from the Trading with the Enemy Act," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(1), pages 396-427, February.
    2. Popp David & Juhl Ted & Johnson Daniel K.N., 2004. "Time In Purgatory: Examining the Grant Lag for U.S. Patent Applications," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 4(1), pages 1-45, November.
    3. Ryan L. Lampe & Petra Moser, 2009. "Do Patent Pools Encourage Innovation? Evidence from the 19th-Century Sewing Machine Industry," NBER Working Papers 15061, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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