[Market-farming] Broccolini Trademarks

Bill Shoemaker wshoemak at inil.com
Tue Feb 17 15:13:03 EST 2004

I'm not sure what the legal vehicle is, but an example is the use of the term broccoflower. As far as I know, the company which contracts and markets broccoflower has ownership of the term and the product itself, starting with the basic genetics of the broccoflower cultivar. Another example is 'Santa' grape tomato. I believe these ownerships have been tested in court and approved.

Bill Shoemaker
Sr Research Specialist, Food Crops
Univ of Illinois - St Charles Hort Research Center

  -----Original Message-----
  From: shepherd ogden <shepogden at yahoo.com>
  To: market-farming at lists.ibiblio.org <market-farming at lists.ibiblio.org>
  Date: Tuesday, February 17, 2004 12:15 PM
  Subject: [Market-farming] Broccolini Trademarks

  Re: Broccolini and such

  I believe if you check the US Seed law (around section 207) you will find that it is illegal to trademark variety names, and "forms" such as broccolini, or rapini (which is basically broccoli raab) can't really be "patented" either. There are basicall three levels of intellectual property protection for seed propagated plants and this discussion is insufficiently precise to represent the level claimed by the person referred to. (This is not to say that the technicalities of this situation are not widely abused and ignored. Just check a Shepherd's Garden Seeds catalog to see rampant re-naming...which is also in violation of the seed laws.)

  We found out about the tradmarking issue in terms of the Gilfeather turnip, which our company sold for years and for which the supplier claimed a trademark. Then they had back to back crop failures and a few small seed growers (including us and Arethusa Farms, both in the Intervale in Burlington, Vermont) put out crops to save this variety, and were told by a grower in southern Vermont (Paul Dutton) that we couldn't sell it as Gilfeather because he had "bought" the trademark rights. So I did some web research (mostly for Arethusa, as I had gone out of the seed business by that time) and found the relevant passages on the USDA site -- sorry, but I can't cite them right now because I am at work and on deadline -- which convinced me of this.

  Shepherd Ogden

  (FORMERLY of The Cook's Garden)

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