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Did Plant Patents Create the American Rose?

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  • Petra Moser
  • Paul W. Rhode

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

  • Petra Moser & Paul W. Rhode, 2011. "Did Plant Patents Create the American Rose?," NBER Working Papers 16983, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16983
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    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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    Cited by:

    1. Campi, Mercedes & Nuvolari, Alessandro, 2015. "Intellectual property protection in plant varieties: A worldwide index (1961–2011)," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(4), pages 951-964.
    2. Petra Moser, 2012. "Patent Laws and Innovation: Evidence from Economic History," NBER Working Papers 18631, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • K0 - Law and Economics - - General
    • N12 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
    • O3 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • O34 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Intellectual Property and Intellectual Capital
    • Q0 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General

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