Friday, November 14, 2014

NPR story on apple varieties and TM as substitute for patent

The story suggests that control over new varieties could last forever, instead of expiring as previous patents on new varities have, because the varieties are "trademarked." Query: if the public knows the apple as SweeTango, why isn't that word the generic term for that kind of apple?


  1. Anonymous8:26 AM

    Well, sure, the trademark could last forever . . .so long as the owner retains control, right? This is not a new thing. For example, Ugli fruit (a pomelo hybrid)and HoneyBells (orange hybrid)have been registered and marketed for many years. Of course, if the owners of those marks start selling root stock, they're going to lose control. As to your SweeTango hypothetical: If I know my computer as a Mac, isn't that the generic name for my computer? Well, no.

  2. Physical control matters, of course. I find the Mac analogy unpersuasive, however. A distinct variety providing distinct non-reputation-related advantages (or at least advertised as such) is not the same as a brand. Put another way: suppose a grower does "leak" some of these apples, and someone not contractually bound starts growing them. What's the generic name of the variety? The scientific name won't make a dent on the public, like acetylsalicylic acid.