MPEP 2121.03
Plant Genetics — What Constitutes Enabling Prior Art

Ninth Edition of the MPEP, Revision 07.2022, Last Revised in February 2023

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2121.03    Plant Genetics — What Constitutes Enabling Prior Art [R-10.2019]


When the claims are drawn to plants, the reference, combined with knowledge in the prior art, must enable one of ordinary skill in the art to reproduce the plant. In re LeGrice, 301 F.2d 929, 133 USPQ 365 (CCPA 1962) (National Rose Society Annual of England and various other catalogues showed color pictures of the claimed roses and disclosed that applicant had raised the roses. The publications were published more than 1 year before applicant's filing date. The court held that the publications did not place the rose in the public domain. Information on the grafting process required to reproduce the rose was not included in the publications and such information was necessary for those of ordinary skill in the art (plant breeders) to reproduce the rose.). Compare Ex parte Thomson, 24 USPQ2d 1618 (Bd. Pat. App. & Inter. 1992) (Seeds were commercially available more than 1 year prior to applicant’s filing date. One of ordinary skill in the art could grow the claimed cotton cultivar from the commercially available seeds. Thus, the publications describing the cotton cultivar had "enabled disclosures." The Board distinguished In re LeGrice by finding that the catalogue picture of the rose of In re LeGrice was the only evidence in that case. There was no evidence of commercial availability in enabling form since the asexually reproduced rose could not be reproduced from seed. Therefore, the public would not have possession of the rose by its picture alone, but the public would have possession of the cotton cultivar based on the publications and the availability of the seeds.). In In re Elsner, 381 F.3d 1125, 1126, 72 USPQ2d 1038, 1040 (Fed. Cir. 2004), prior to the critical date of a plant patent application, the plant had been sold in Germany and a foreign Plant Breeder’s Rights (PBR) application for the same plant had been published in the Community Plant Variety Office Official Gazette. The court held that when (i) a publication identifies claimed the plant, (ii) a foreign sale occurs that puts one of ordinary skill in the art in possession of the plant itself, and (iii) such possession permits asexual reproduction of the plant without undue experimentation to one of ordinary skill in the art, then that combination of facts and events directly conveys the essential knowledge of the invention and constitutes a pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b) statutory bar.Id. at 1129, 72 USPQ2d at 1041. Although the court agreed with the Board that foreign sales may enable an otherwise non-enabling printed publication, the case was remanded for additional fact-finding in order to determine if the foreign sales of the plant were known to be accessible to the skilled artisan and if the skilled artisan could have reproduced the plant asexually after obtaining it without undue experimentation. Id. at 1131, 72 USPQ2d at 1043. See MPEP § 2152.02(d) for information on foreign sales being prior art for applications subject to the first inventor to file provisions of the AIA.