Missing information + intellectual property law = a big problem for growers, breeders, and small cannabis businesses.
The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has started granting patents on cannabis varieties (not to mention countless cannabis products). The first of these are sweeping utility patents that restrict entire categories of cannabis, covering many plants that likely existed in the past and many thousands of potential future varieties.
Agricultural patents can spur innovation; but overly broad ones can block it. Such patents are bad for industry, the environment, for farmers, and for the future of crop plants themselves – corn, for example, has over 20,000 varieties of seeds registered in the United States, and yet the vast majority of the corn on the market comes from six genetic lines. Six.
This would be a disaster for cannabis and hemp. Help us keep this from happening to these plants…and to the cultivators who tend to them.
What we can do
The USPTO, and other patenting bodies internationally, can’t legally grant patents that would cover existing varieties – but there has to be proof that these varieties DO exist. We can block this process by providing this proof: documenting genetic and chemical data for all of the cannabis varieties in existence today.
As collective evidence of prior art, the OCP database and our curation of public cannabis documentation will help keep cannabis varieties where they belong: in the public domain, free for anyone to breed and grow.
You can help!
We need volunteers, developers, growers, data scientists, lawyers, and laboratories to help us collect data and protect cannabis diversity. Want to help? Here’s how you can:
• Send us your chemical and genetic lab reports. Right now we’re prototyping a lab report uploader and public domain declarations tool. If you’re interested in participating, please send your report to firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Sign up for our newsletter and stay in the loop about volunteer and design research opportunities.
• Make a donation! We are a tiny organization with a big goal. Every dollar helps us get there.
Have other thoughts or ideas? Get in touch.