Back in our summer newsletter, we shared that the United States Department of Agriculture had launched the Seed Liaison Initiative to help growers, plant breeders, and others who work with seed navigate the complex US seed system. The initiative aims to help create a transparent and competitive seed market, promoting broader access to seeds for research and plant breeding.
Since then, the USDA Seed Liaison website has new resources for learning to read and understand patent applications, to go along with instructions for conducting a patent search. The team has also started to send a digital newsletter with a weekly summary of pending patent applications related to new, seed-bearing plants and non-transgenic processes for obtaining them.
Additionally, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), the larger agency that the Seed Liaison office is a part of, reiterated its commitment to enforcing the Federal Seed Act (FSA), and to investigate and take corrective action against seed companies that are potentially violating the law. In particular this year, the agency has been making public statements and issuing letters to several of the largest seed companies regarding varietal labels on seed that is sold in interstate commerce. AMS views false advertising and mislabeling of seed varietal names as serious violations of the FSA.
Recent public announcements underscore the importance of avoiding representations that may claim or give the impression that seed brands add diversification for a grower when that representation is false or misleading. In their posting, AMS notes, “Brand names may be associated with the name of the kind or variety of seed; however, the Brand must be clearly identified as not being the kind or variety name. For example, ABC123 Brand sweet corn may not be advertised in a way that creates the impression that ABC123 is a kind or variety name. In this example, the word “Brand” after the word “ABC123” is sufficient to distinguish the Brand.”
To stay up to date with the USDA Seed Liaison activities, you can sign up for their email newsletter. We will also keep you updated through our newsletters with any significant announcements in the future!