You’ve heard of counterfeit designer goods, movies and music, but did you know plants can also be faked? It may sound outrageous, but counterfeit brand roses and other plants have been discovered in nurseries across the country.
Plant patents and plant breeders’ rights are based on having permission to propagate. Most branded plants are protected by strong trademark, patent and commerce laws. Plants that are grown without proper permission are also not subject to the strict growing guidelines that brands set out for breeders – meaning that the counterfeit plant will not display the same bloom, disease resistance or other characteristics of the “authentic” plant. Gardeners who unknowingly buy these counterfeit plants are then disappointed when they don’t live up to expectations.
Fortunately, Star® Roses and Plants/Conard-Pyle has joined with other well-known brands to help protect consumers from buying knock off plants.
Proven Winners Color Choice®, Encore® Azaleas, Endless Summer Collection®, First Editions®, The Knock Out® Family of Roses, Drift® Roses, and Southern Living® Plant Collection have expanded the Plant Watch® nursery inspection program aimed at protecting their plant patents and branded programs across the country. Inspections are underway from New Jersey to Oregon and from Michigan to Louisiana.
“Each year we do this inspection program, the value of the brands and patents becomes more clear to growers. We’ve worked hard to establish our brands and spend a lot of money on patents. Enforcing these Intellectual Property rights is necessary to support our customers and licensees and ensures that compliance is improving,” said Jacques Ferare from Star Roses and Plants/The Conard-Pyle Company.
Nurseries across the country have undergone a polite inspection by Plant Watch® representatives to see how they are meeting the requirements of these branded programs and respecting the patents. It’s well known how expensive it is to establish a plant brand in our industry. Growers who comply with patent and branding requirements are at a disadvantage when infringers undercut prices.
Plant Watch® has a proven track record in the industry, and has successfully intervened with infringers to curtail their illegal activities for over seven years. According to Plant Watch® Managing Director, Peggy Walsh Craig, “It’s obvious our industry needs to sell more plants to more and different kinds of people. Marketing new varieties helps make consumers aware of exciting new colors and sizes of plants and homeowners have more satisfying ways to beautify their gardens. When a few growers unfairly take advantage of the investment made by other nurseries in new varieties, the whole industry suffers.”
Nurseries found to be non-compliant are assessed a significant fine based on the number of unauthorized plants discovered, and the destruction of those plants will be required.