Author Topic: Patented Hops  (Read 4617 times)

Offline hopshead

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Patented Hops
« on: December 29, 2010, 11:26:43 AM »
Can anyone explain to the uninformed (read... me), how the patents for hops work?  Specifically:

1)  What exactly do the patents cover?  (only grown by a particular farmer, royalties to inventor if grown by others,etc.)

2)  How long are the patents good for?

3)  What happens when the patents expire?

4)  Cascade hops are not patented, did they use to be?

5)  Will we ever be able to buy, Amarillo, Citra, and Palisade )etc.) rhizomes?

Thanks in advance from a curious home brewer. 
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Offline denny

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Re: Patented Hops
« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2010, 11:39:41 AM »
Are they actually patented?
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Offline hokerer

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Re: Patented Hops
« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2010, 12:09:14 PM »
Are they actually patented?

Don't think they're patented.  I believe the proper term is "Plant Variety Protected".  Basically, noboby else is allowed to grow 'em.
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Offline denny

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Re: Patented Hops
« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2010, 12:57:02 PM »
That's the way I understood it...proprietary, but not patented.
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Re: Patented Hops
« Reply #4 on: December 29, 2010, 01:21:54 PM »
Yep, here it is... 

"Plant Variety Protection: An Alternative to Patents"  at http://www.nal.usda.gov/pgdic/Probe/v2n2/plant.html

...looks like they can get up to 18 years of protection.
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Offline hopshead

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Re: Patented Hops
« Reply #5 on: December 29, 2010, 01:38:16 PM »
Actually, Amarillo, Citra, and Palisade are patented.  I found this file with a google search, follow this link:

www.lfl.bayern.de/ipz/hopfen/10585/ihgc_list_2010.pdf

Download the pdf and go to page 5. 

This is a list of patented and protected hops from the international hop growers convention 2010.  If they are actually patented, I would think that you could search for the actual patent.  I will do this next and report back.

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Offline hopshead

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Re: Patented Hops
« Reply #6 on: December 29, 2010, 01:52:55 PM »
I found the amarillo patent.  I searched the US Patent Office for VGXP01.  As in Amarillo® VGXP01 c.v.

However, all I am getting in the search is an abstract....that is not answering my questions.
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Offline hopshead

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Re: Patented Hops
« Reply #7 on: December 29, 2010, 02:07:16 PM »
Here is a plant patent definition from the patent office, first two questions answered:

A plant patent is granted by the Government to an inventor (or the inventor's heirs or assigns) who has invented or discovered and asexually reproduced a distinct and new variety of plant, other than a tuber propagated plant or a plant found in an uncultivated state. The grant, which lasts for 20 years from the date of filing the application, protects the inventor's right to exclude others from asexually reproducing, selling, or using the plant so reproduced.
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Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Patented Hops
« Reply #8 on: December 29, 2010, 02:55:41 PM »
My assumption (risky, I know) is that these patents would be similar to the patents Cargill and ADM and others have on their pest resistant grains. 

My understanding is that these are GMOs where the DNA is altered so that the seeds that they sell do not produce seed plants (thus you need to keep coming back to Cargill) and that they have also modified the base plant by adding pesticide or whatever to the DNA such that it becomes the pest resistant variety.

Thus, the patent isn't necessarily on corn seed but on corn seed that has been genetically modified in a specific way.  They further protect this patent by making sure that the seeds they sell are sterile.

It's been years since I studied up on this, though, so I may be missing some of the exact technical details.
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Re: Patented Hops
« Reply #9 on: December 29, 2010, 07:10:21 PM »
4)  Cascade hops are not patented, did they use to be?

5)  Will we ever be able to buy, Amarillo, Citra, and Palisade )etc.) rhizomes?

Thanks in advance from a curious home brewer. 
Other questions 1-3 have been answered.
If you go back and look, many of the hops developed were done at the USDA labs in the PNW.  These became "public" when they were released to the growers.  I understand that a good deal of the funding came from the BMC's of the world, as they wanted more desease resistant hops for a more consistant supply,and higher Alpha hops.  That funding is not there today.  The hop research is done by commercial firms such as Hopunion, Yakima Chief, Barth-Haas.  Since they are investing private funds, they get the financial rewards.  This is from what was talked about at the NHC the last few years.

Amarillo has been said to be from one farm, the VG in the designation.  They reportedly found an odd/mutated hop in their field, investigated it, and then developed it for market.  That one might never be available.  Would you give it up?  There have been lawsuits over ownership of hop cultivars.  Heard of CTZ?
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Offline wakeele

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Re: Patented Hops
« Reply #10 on: February 03, 2012, 11:27:46 PM »
Anyone know off hand what the current list of hops holding patents?

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Re: Patented Hops
« Reply #11 on: February 04, 2012, 07:07:25 AM »
Look under the "patent" column, and scroll down to the rows for North America.

http://www.lfl.bayern.de/ipz/hopfen/10585/ihgc_list_2011.pdf
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Offline nateo

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Re: Patented Hops
« Reply #12 on: February 04, 2012, 10:03:09 AM »
If you go back and look, many of the hops developed were done at the USDA labs in the PNW.  These became "public" when they were released to the growers.  I understand that a good deal of the funding came from the BMC's of the world, as they wanted more desease resistant hops for a more consistant supply,and higher Alpha hops.  That funding is not there today.  The hop research is done by commercial firms such as Hopunion, Yakima Chief, Barth-Haas.  Since they are investing private funds, they get the financial rewards.  This is from what was talked about at the NHC the last few years.

Despite the BMC crowd cutting funding for basic research, there is still a lot of public money and public facilities that go into hop research. The private growers didn't get into hop research until the 80's when patent rules were relaxed to make it easier to patent and protect plants. The Hop Research Council (a non-profit that funds and directs hops research, running programs at universities all over the PNW) decided around 2000 that it wasn't in the public interest to release public hop varieties anymore. There is still a lot of research that the HRC funds: http://www.hopresearchcouncil.org/research.html, yet their research doesn't end up in the public domain anymore.

The problem with the new varieties of hops is they're not required to disclose parentage, so you have no idea if they're taking germplasms developed in public labs to patent their own varieties.

Here's some interesting articles with some quotes from Al Haunold, who ran the USDA's hop program in Corvallis. http://inhoppursuit.blogspot.com/2010/08/hoptalk-with-al-haunold-freedom-hops.html
http://inhoppursuit.blogspot.com/2010/01/part-iii-dr.html
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Re: Patented Hops
« Reply #13 on: February 04, 2012, 10:46:09 AM »
Thanks for the links.

I have been to the Indie-Hops blog a few times, but have not seen those 2 posts.
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Offline nateo

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Re: Patented Hops
« Reply #14 on: February 04, 2012, 12:39:58 PM »
4)  Cascade hops are not patented, did they use to be?

Here's a good article on the history of Cascade: http://inhoppursuit.blogspot.com/2010/01/cascade-how-adolph-coors-helped-launch.html
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