MPEP 2403.02
Plant Material

This is the Ninth Edition of the MPEP, Revision 08.2017, Last Revised in January 2018

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2403.02    Plant Material [R-07.2015]

Although plant material is included within the scope of the definition of biological material for purposes of patents for plant inventions under 35 U.S.C. 101, the rules on deposits are not applicable to applications filed under the Plant Patent Act (35 U.S.C. 161 -164 ). The Office is of the view that a deposit is not required under the present provisions of 35 U.S.C. 162. Thus, a deposit is not necessary for the grant of a plant patent under the provisions of 35 U.S.C. 161 -164. See also MPEP § 1605. As with other biological material deposited for purposes of patents for inventions under 35 U.S.C. 101, the deposit of plant material together with the written specification must enable those skilled in the art to make and use the claimed invention, in accordance with the requirements of 35 U.S.C. 112.

As with some types of reproducible biological material, seeds can be reproduced only after a growing season which may be relatively long. Although the rules do not specify a specific number of seeds to be deposited to meet the requirements of these rules, the Office will consider 2500 to be an optimum number in the normal case, but will give an applicant the opportunity to provide justification why a lesser number would be suitable under the circumstances of a particular case. The Department of Agriculture requires a deposit of 2500 seeds for the grant of a Plant Variety Protection Certificate under the Plant Variety Protection Act (7 U.S.C. 2321 et seq.). As the reproduction of seeds will often take a substantial period of time, the Office will require, at a minimum for the grant of a patent, a number of seeds that is likely to satisfy demand for samples once the patent is granted. In one instance, the Office accepted a deposit of 600 seeds coupled with an undertaking to deposit 1900 more seeds with due diligence. The particular situation involved a "seedless" vegetable with very few seeds per "fruit;" about two growing seasons were required to provide the additional 1900 seeds.