June 7, 2023
A practical guide to intellectual property in agriculture and the farming industry
A practical guide to intellectual property in agriculture and the farming industry

Tradition, meet innovation

Farming developed over 10,000 years ago, and has been inspiring innovation ever since.

In recent decades, new approaches to agriculture have been all the more important in order to meet the needs of a growing world population and to adapt to threats such climate change.


Age-old know-how or protectable IP?

Agri-business recognises the revenue potential of intellectual property rights along the value chain from field to finished products.

IP is both a key driver of innovation and a symbol of quality and provenance for consumers.

There are many kinds of intellectual property rights which may apply to different innovations. It's important to select the appropriate ones to best protect your investment.



A granted patent is a legal monopoly, an exclusive right to use a novel invention.

A patent is a valuable form of intellectual property – an asset which can be assigned, transferred, licensed - or exclusively used by the owner.

Patent law is territorial so a patent is only useful in the countries or regions in which it is in force.

Patents can be a very lucrative investment under the right circumstances, but they involve significant workload as well as careful planning and budgeting.


Plant Variety Rights

Plant Breeder Rights or Plant Variety Rights are designed to protect new varieties of plants for the breeder of a new plant variety. There are more than 100,000 plant variety rights in force worldwide.

Note that trade marks in respect of plants, foods and other related goods may not be granted if they consist of, or reproduce in their essential elements, an earlier plant variety denomination.



Brand assets, such as your name and logo, identify your company and differentiate your products and services from those of others.

This is particularly important in retailing day to day necessary commodities such as foods and drinks. Where the market is highly saturated, a strong branding strategy may be crucial to attract brand loyalty.


Trade marks

Trade marks are one of the most important IP rights, which can protect your brand assets such as your company name, product names, logos, and even slogans.

Developing a unique and memorable brand takes time and effort.

In the food industry, where brands act as symbols of origin and quality, being able to robustly protect your brand from copycats is key to maintaining a competitive advantage.


Geographical indications

A geographical indication (GI) is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin, and possess qualities, characteristics or reputation which are essentially due to the place of origin.

The term “geographical indications” is quite a broad one and there are a number of international treaties and national/regional versions of GI's, including:

  • Appellations of origin (AO),
  • Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) and
  • Protected Geographical Indications (PGI).


IP rights working together

IP rights often work best together.

Trade marks can be used in conjunction with other IP rights to provide complementary protection, e.g. in countries where PVR's do not apply.

Trade marks may be renewed indefinitely, making them a very important tool in protecting plant varieties long after other protections, such as PVR's, expire.


Food & Drink /  Trademarks /  IP basics

Found this article interesting today?
Send us your thoughts: