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Questions for Open Cannabis Project

Hi all - I know many of you have questions for OCP surrounding the recent announcement from Phylos. I’m making this thread so that people can ask away.

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Hi Beth.
(please excuse me as I’m not anything near a geneticist, just a hobbyist grower/seedmaker)
I’m curious about “prior art.” Is that a genetic portrait? How does it differ from something like a herbarium (or does it)?
umm, and I have to say that that patent linked on your .pdf is totally disturbing, and I don’t even know legalese!

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Thanks for making this thread, @beth. I expect you will be getting some questions…

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Hi @Herbert_Ashe -

The legalese in patents is intense. It took me a minute to get used to reading them, and patents in general.

“Prior art” is really anything that proves the existence of a thing. It’s helpful when it’s dated so that it’s clear when something enters the public domain.

For plants, robust prior art can be a number of things, and likely a combination of: a plant sample, information about how the plant was bred, information about the soil and tending environment, any documentation related to modification of the plant, genetic data, and for cannabis, chemical data.

When a patent application comes by a patent examiner, it lists a series of qualities that should be covered under the patent. Patent examiners look for prior art that matches the items listed in these claims. SO! The more information that’s available as prior art, the less likely something is able to be accidentally patented that’s similar.

Hope that helps :slight_smile:

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Of course! I’m waiting. And! If I don’t answer immediately, know that I will come back as soon as I can.

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@Growernick , can you place this higher in the thread?

GN may want to use the copy below or the web archive. Looks like the OCP server is getting overwhelmed.

OCP-2018-Recap.pdf (2.7 MB)

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@beth

What category patents cover plants?

Are they similar to utility patents where they are supposed to contain enough detail that the average person skilled in the art can recreate the invention?

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Hi @beth,

I’m expecting answers to each question below. Thanks in advance.

I had sent you the deck from Phylos a while ago… you have been very close to them and even scheduled a video call between myself and Mowgli, in their facilities… When we met in person a year ago, we spoke about Phylos, what did prevent you from telling me OCP had been incepted by Phylos 2 years before? Why did you wait for this information to become public to come out?

How come OCP has never pointed that what Phylos was doing was a potential threat?

Can you disclose where is OCP’s funding coming from ?

Despite @reggie saying that you are massively underfunded, everyone has been able to see OCP on all industry events and at hearings in D.C. for 2 years… At Strainly (an incorporated for profit), we can barely afford a trip from Montreal to Toronto. How do you finance your operations?

What has been preventing OCP from protecting breeders and growers from Phylos’ predatory strategy, given your proximity with Phylos?

Don’t you feel OCP has been distracting the industry from the real threats while Phylos was making bold moves toward acquiring a dominant position in the breeding space?

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There are two kinds of patents that can cover plants: plant patents and utility patents.

At a high level, plant patents cover single plants and their clones. Utility patents are variable in scope, and can cover all kinds of inventions - including seeds and synthetic compounds and processes, etc.

I am not sure whether a plant patent requires the same kind of instructions for people of an average skill level as a utility patent does. However, given that the one just covers clones, I would imagine not (but I’m not sure, perhaps @reggie knows).

At the USDA, there is a plant registration program called Plant Variety Protection. It covers stable seed lines, and is not exactly the same thing as a patent. Only recently did the program begin to accept cannabis seeds at the federal level, and right now the only seeds they’ll accept is for hemp.

We’ve written a bit more about it here: https://medium.com/opencannabisproject/cannabis-patents-101-57787dc75c73

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I posted this in the other thread, but i’ll repost it here

What is a Utility Patent? What is a plant patent? Is a Plant Variety Protection Certificate a patent? What rights or protection is afforded by the various documents? How do you go about applying for a patent on a plant? What information is required to support a patent on a plant? Has anyone already applied for patents related to cannabis? The information provided below is borrowed from various portions of the United States Patent Office website, as well as other online resources (e.g., Perennial Patent Co, Citizen.org). A summary of the differences between the types of intellectual property protection available for plants is given first, followed by more detailed description of the different types.

There are three types of intellectual property protection for newly “invented” plants in the United States: Plant Variety Protection Certificates, Utility Patent and Plant Patents. Various similarities and differences of each are presented below.

Plant Variety Protection Certificates

  • Plant Types Covered
    • Applies to sexually (seed) reproduced plants, tuber propagated plants and F1 hybrids. The variety must be uniform, stable, and distinct from all other varieties. Fungi, bacteria, and first generation hybrids are excluded
    • Example: turfgrass seed
  • Protection Granted
    • PVP is granted by the USDA, NOT the USPTO, and the protection covers a single variety and essentially derived varieties.
    • In a Patent, claims define the “metes and bounds” of the invention. PVP Certificates have no claims.
    • Grants exclusive rights to exclude others from selling the variety, or offering it for sale, or reproducing it, or importing it, or exporting the variety.
    • There are two exemptions to the rights granted. One exists to allow farmers to save seed for use on their own farm or to sell it to their neighbors. Recent court decisions have defined who is a “farmer” and how much seed can be saved. Another exemption allows research to be conducted using the variety.
    • The term of protection runs 18 years from the certificate’s date of issue, or 25 years in the case of a tree or vine.

USPTO Plant Patents under 35 U.S.C. 161

  • Plant Types Covered
    • Applies to asexually reproduced plants (buds and cuttings)
    • Example: roses
  • Protection Granted
    • Claims define the “metes and bounds” of the invention.
    • Plant Patents have only one claim.
  • Plant Patent Infringement
    • Plant patent holder has the right to exclude others from asexually reproducing the plant, and from using, offering for sale, or selling the plant so reproduced, or any of its parts, throughout the United States, or from importing the plant so reproduced, or any parts thereof, into the United States. However, Plant Patent holders cannot exclude others from using their patented varieties in breeding programs.
    • The term for a Patent is now 20 years from initial filing.

USPTO Utility Patent under 35 U.S.C. 101

  • Plant Types Covered
    • Sexually reproducing plants (flowers and seeds) and genetically engineered plants
    • Example Cotton seed
  • Protection Granted
    • Claims define the “metes and bounds” of the invention.
    • Utility Patents have multiple claims.
    • Utility Patent protection can be broader: seed deposit claims, trait claims, breeding methods, food product claims.
    • Trait claims cover those varieties developed and disclosed in the patent application without need for seed deposit and cover those varieties independently developed later that fall within the claim.
  • Utility Patent Infringement
    • A patent holder may prevent others from making, using, selling, offering for sale or importing the claimed invention.
    • Furthermore – and a significant difference between Utility and Plant Patents – there is no research exception for [Utility] patented varieties: patent holder can prevent other breeders from using a patented variety in breeding
    • The term for a Utility Patent is now 20 years.

In summary, PVP Certificates and Utility Patents apply to sexually reproduced plants whereas Plant Patents apply to asexually reproduced plants. PVP Certificates are much less expensive than Utility Patents however they provide much less protection for the breeder and only last for 18 years as opposed to the 20 year statute for patents. While there is some overlap between the types of protection available for certain plants, where possible protection for both the asexually propagated stable plant and the stable parents that produced the F1 and thus that trio of plants (parents and F1 having a stably reproduced phenotype) should be the subject matter of both types of patent protection. Utility Patents are more common for hybridized and engineered seed crops (namely commodity crops, of which Cannabis could be considered one) whereas Plant Patents are the predominant choice for ornamental turf and plant varieties that are propagated by cutting or buds.

What is a Utility patent? (Material from USPTO website in italicized font)

A Utility patent is issued for the invention of a new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or a new and useful improvement thereof, it generally permits its owner to exclude others from making, using, or selling the invention for a period of up to twenty years from the date of patent application filing.

The word “process” is defined by law as a process, act, or method, and primarily includes industrial or technical processes. The term “machine” used in the statute needs no explanation. The term “manufacture” refers to articles that are made, and includes all manufactured articles. The term “composition of matter” relates to chemical compositions and may include mixtures of ingredients as well as new chemical compounds. These classes of subject matter taken together include practically everything that is made by man and the processes for making the products.

A uniquely bred strain, having a property that was significantly altered, and could be shown to have utility due to that uniquely bred property, and which reproduces sexually (involving seed and flower) can be can be considered both a process (the act of breeding the unique properties) and manufacture (an article that is made, that is the specific breeding leading to the plant being protected). It might be a stretch, but a uniquely bred strain, if it could be shown to have a specific unique chemical composition (think entourage) might even fall under composition of matter. An example of a utility patent issued by the USPTO on a cannabis plant is US9,095,554.

What is a plant patent? (Material from USPTO website in italicized font with highlighting or underlining added by Steep Hill)

A plant patent is granted by the Government to an inventor (or the inventor’s heirs or assigns) who has invented or discovered and asexually reproduced a distinct and new variety of plant, other than a tuber propagated plant or a plant found in an uncultivated state. The grant, which lasts for 20 years from the date of filing the application, protects the inventor’s right to exclude others from asexually reproducing, selling, or using the plant so reproduced. This protection is limited to a plant in its ordinary meaning:

A living plant organism which expresses a set of characteristics determined by its single, genetic makeup or genotype , which can be duplicated through asexual reproduction, but which cannot otherwise be “made” or “manufactured.”

Sports, mutants, hybrids , and transformed plants are comprehended; sports or mutants may be spontaneous or induced. Hybrids may be natural, from a planned breeding program, or somatic in source . While natural plant mutants might have naturally occurred, they must have been discovered in a cultivated area.

Algae and macro fungi are regarded as plants, but bacteria are not.

The information presented in this section is tailored to apply to and is limited to patents on asexually reproduced plants.

Asexually reproduced plants and asexual reproduction applies to the cannabis industry wide practice of distributing clones of stabile phenotypes (i.e., a set of characteristics determined by the plants genetic makeup, otherwise known as genotype) to growers and dispensaries. It would be safe to say that all newly developed strains are hybrids to some degree, as breeding typically involves combining distinct phenotypes to produce new offspring with different traits or at least different combinations of traits than either parent possessed.

Additional requirements that need to be met for plant patents, include (material from USPTO website in italicized font);

That the plant is not a plant which is excluded by statute, where the part of the plant used for asexual reproduction is not a tuber food part, as with potato or Jerusalem artichoke.

That the person or persons filing the application are those who actually invented the claimed plant; i.e., discovered or developed and identified or isolated the plant, and asexually reproduced the plant.

That the plant has not been sold or released in the United States of America more than one year prior to the date of the application.

That the plant has not been enabled to the public, i.e., by description in a printed publication in this country more than one year before the application for patent with an offer to sale; or by release or sale of the plant more than one year prior to application for patent.

That the plant be shown to differ from known, related plants by at least one distinguishing characteristic, which is more than a difference caused by growing conditions or fertility levels, etc.

The invention would not have been obvious to one skilled in the art at the time of invention by applicant.

What rights or protection are afforded by plant patents? (Material from USPTO website in italicized font with highlighting or underlining added by Steep Hill)

Grant of a patent for a plant precludes others from asexually reproducing or selling or using the patented plant. A plant patent is regarded as limited to one plant, or genome. A sport or mutant of a patented plant would not be considered to be of the same genotype, would not be covered by the plant patent to the parent plant, and would, itself, be separately patentable, subject to meeting the requirements of patentability. A plant patent expires 20 years from the filing date of the patent application. As with utility applications, when the plant patent expires, the subject matter of the patent becomes public domain.

How do you go about getting a plant patent, and what information is required to support a plant patent? A plant patent is a formal application to the United States Patent and Trademark (USPTO) which includes a description of the unique characteristics of the plant that are tied to the genetic makeup or genotype of the plant as well as growing characteristics and any other detailed information that can be used to distinguish the plant to be patented from other similar plants. Color pictures or drawings of the plant often are required, particularly if color or a specific physical trait are part of what are being claimed as being a unique, distinguishing characteristic. More detailed information is provided below using information provided from the USPTO. (Material from USPTO website in italicized font with highlighting or underlining added by Steep Hill)

Title 37 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Section 1.163(a)) requires that the specification must contain as full and complete a botanical description as reasonably possible of the plant and the characteristics which distinguish that plant over known, related plants. The components of a plant application are similar to those of a utility application.

Among the factors which must be ascertained for a reasonably complete botanical description for the claimed plant are:

Genus and species

Habit of growth

Cultivar name

Vigor

Productivity

Precocity (if applicable)

Botanical characteristics of plant structures (i.e. buds, bark, foliage, flowers, fruit, etc.)

Fertility (Fecundity)

Other characteristics which distinguish the plant such as resistance(s) to disease, drought, cold, dampness, etc., fragrance, coloration, regularity and time of bearing, quantity or quality of extracts, rooting ability, timing or duration of flowering season, etc.

The amount of detail required in a plant patent application is determined on a case­-by­-case basis, and is determined by the similarity of the prior art plants to the plant being claimed . The examiner will evaluate the completeness of the application. The examiner’s judgment may be tempered by the level of activity in a specific market class. The botanical description of a plant in a market class with a high level of commercial activity may require greater detail, substance and specificity than that for a plant in a market class of little activity.

The highlighting and underlining applied to the above paragraph by Steep Hill is explained here. First sentence in bold; basically this means that as more cannabis plant patents are issued, the more detail to distinguish between the strains will be required. Prior art plants means, for this purpose, any previously filed hemp/cannabis plant patent applications or issued plant patents. What does that mean to you? The sooner you decide to file on your unique strain, the better, as you’ll have fewer “prior art plants” to contend with, which THEORETICALLY should make the process easier early on, as compared to after hundreds have been filed. The sentence referring to “The examiner’s judgement…” expect the judgement level to be high and the examination to be tough until public policy and government attitudes change. Every early cannabis application is likely to be thoroughly scrutinized so be as thorough as possible when making your observations and recording the information required for the application. The last bolded sentence in the above paragraph is pretty self-explanatory, expect a LOT of activity in this market class. More from the USPTO website below in italics, with highlighting or underlining added by Steep Hill. The rest of what we’ve included for you is a description of what will be expected and how to go about getting what you need for a complete plant patent application.

While background information for specific classes of plants may be readily available, one seeking to file a plant patent application should be thoroughly familiar with the characteristics of the plant, and must assure that the plant is stable. Invention for purposes of a plant patent is a two step process:

The first step is the discovery step which involves the identification of a novel plant. This step could be performed in any cultivated area. It could involve the identification or recognition of an off­-type plant in a monoculture of a known variety or the identification of a desirable mutant which was either spontaneous or induced. Or, it could result from the identification or recognition of an outstanding individual within the progeny of a cross made in a planned breeding program.

The second step, which consists of asexual reproduction, tests the stability of the claimed plant to assure that the plant’s unique characteristics are not due to disease, infection, or exposure to agents which cause a change in the plant’s appearance which is transitory and not due to a change in the genotype of the plant.

It is important that each of the above steps is satisfied before an application is filed . The inventor of a plant must have discovered or identified the novel plant, and must have asexually reproduced the plant and observed the clones so produced for a sufficient amount of time to have concluded that the clones are identical to the parent plant in all characteristics. It would be inappropriate to file an application before the second step of invention had been completed. Filing of an application before the second step of invention has been completed will result in rejection of the claim as being premature and non­statutory.

Before an application is filed, the (clones of the) plant must have been carefully observed during the testing process. Because the botanical description of the plant must be reasonably complete, it would not suffice to describe just the fruit, or flower, or bark, or leaves of any specific plant, even if these plant parts were the valuable substance of the plant in commerce or the only parts seem to be distinctive or different. It would be inappropriate to describe just the bark, roots and juvenile growth of a rootstock, even if only these parts would normally would be seen by or important to the consumer who was to purchase the plant.

In preparation of a plant patent disclosure, all parts of the plant should be carefully observed through at least one growth cycle and such observations should be recorded in detail. Because many plants (like pine trees of the same species, asparagus plants, bluegrass plants, etc.) may look very similar, it may take the collective differences in a number of traits to distinguish a new cultivar. Failure to record characteristics and differences at their time of availability in the growing season could result in applicant not being able to adequately botanically describe the claimed plant when the specification is drafted . Incomplete records of a claimed plant may render it impossible to overcome defects identified in an examiner’s rejection or at the very least prolong prosecution of the application.

This last bolded and underlined part is REALLY REALLY important. It means that the differences that you can use to establish the differences between your strain and “prior art strains” can be found at ANY TIME. From seed to flowering… SO BE OBSERVANT THROUGH THE WHOLE GROW CYCLE!

We at Steep Hill hope you find this information useful. Remember we aren’t providing any legal opinions here. We are just pointing out what is needed for you to start down the road to protecting all the time and effort you put in to developing that new and unique strain. And as usual, Steep Hill is here to help you with the best science available to accomplish that goal . We’d also recommend finding a patent lawyer, or law firm that has experience with filing and prosecuting plant patents.

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When we met in person a year ago, we spoke about Phylos, what did prevent you from telling me OCP had been incepted by Phylos 2 years before?

If we ever talked about the story of our inception, I am pretty sure I would have disclosed that - it’s part of our story. I’ve only been involved as long as the project has been separated (I was hired as a contractor to make the separation; contract lasted from July - Dec. 2017). If I did not mention it, it was not on purpose. I also did not know of any wrongdoing on their part, so it might not have even been something I thought to mention at the time.

Why did you wait for this information to become public to come out?

As someone who had been accused of doing PR for Phylos, at no point did I want to have to do any PR work for them - including, but not limited to, dirty work. As soon as I found out about the breeding program, I (along with many others in the community) urged them to be transparent about it. The video announcement was their attempt at doing so. I only saw the investor pitch video last week and got that information in real time, along with anyone else.

How come OCP has never pointed that what Phylos was doing was a potential threat?

I did not know about any of the plans revealed in the investor video until last week.

Can you disclose where is OCP’s funding coming from ?

This is copied from the other thread, where a similar question was asked.

In terms of finances, you can see the overview in this document:

OCP-2018-Recap.pdf

In short, we made brought in about $44,000 in 2018 (incl. late 2018 donations, which are lumped into this sum). We’ve brought in about $6,000 this year, thanks to John Gilmore and Dale Hunt (both board members).

In 2018, the majority of the funds came from John Gilmore. Other substantial (over $250 donations) came from:

  • Dr. Bronner ($10,000)
  • Anonymous donors ($8000)
  • Rebecca Gasca (Board member) ($2500)
  • Jeremy Plumb (Board member and cofounder) ($1500)
  • Donors who I know who they are but I’m not going to drag them into this thread because they have literally nothing to do with Phylos or OCP of this and are just nice people who like me ($6800)

Despite @reggie saying that you are massively underfunded, everyone has been able to see OCP on all industry events and at hearings in D.C. for 2 years… At Strainly (an incorporated for profit), we can barely afford a trip from Montreal to Toronto. How do you finance your operations?

See above. In addition, board members and friends have helped me get free passes to conferences, or used their personal miles to help me get where I need to go. Or I get asked to speak and then my attendance, and sometimes my room and board, is covered (as was the case at C2, when I met you in Montreal). Or I get a friend pass. I sleep on couches and floors, and at home, I keep my overhead low. I’m frugal, which allows me to do a lot with a little, and I have friends and family in many different cities where I can stay. Speaking of which, many thanks to everyone who has taken me in at one of these conferences or events.

What has been preventing OCP from protecting breeders and growers from Phylos’ predatory strategy, given your proximity with Phylos?

I did not know about this plan to “replace” everything until I saw the investor video. None of that has been information I have had access to.

We set things up that way on purpose - I never wanted our operations to reflect theirs. That’s what formal independence and separation means.

What I have done is halt the intake of data at OCP, as of the Emerald Cup. The only data OCP has is genetic data from Phylos and chemical data from the 2017 and 2018 Cultivation Classic.

I have also spoken with independent lawyers about drafting open source and commercial licenses for strains, in a process to be led by breeders, mostly in California. I am working with another collective to help them figure out how to appropriately collect data and tend to their IP in a way that works with their ethics. In general, I also continue to try and provide accurate materials about how the law works in the US so that breeders can know how to navigate it in service of protecting their work.

Don’t you feel OCP has been distracting the industry from the real threats while Phylos was making bold moves toward acquiring a dominant position in the breeding space?

I certainly feel like I have been played that way, yes.

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Thanks @beth

These were necessary clarifications. Appreciated.
Like you said, I’ve had this feeling you were being played/used for some time. You are likely one of many.

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For plants, robust prior art can be a number of things, and likely a combination of: a plant sample, information about how the plant was bred, information about the soil and tending environment, any documentation related to modification of the plant, genetic data, and for cannabis, chemical data.

I hope it’s ok if I ask these questions here, tho they’re not specifically to do with Phylos…

I was thinking of something, and not like it hasn’t ever been considered, as it is indeed most obvious, but rather the question I have is why it was dismissed… There are hundreds of thousands, if not more, canna grow-threads. They most often have name of Breeder/House, photoperiod, photos, information on parental lines, probably information on potency, basic terpene descriptions, environmental conditions, and more. Why are these not considered valuable records?

Also, there are online databases, for example SeeedFinder.eu, that have a lot of cultivar information.

I hope these are ok questions. And thank you for being here.

Among the factors which must be ascertained for a reasonably complete botanical description for the claimed plant are:
Genus and species
Habit of growth
Cultivar name
Vigor
Productivity
Precocity (if applicable)
Botanical characteristics of plant structures (i.e. buds, bark, foliage, flowers, fruit, etc.)
Fertility (Fecundity)
Other characteristics which distinguish the plant such as resistance(s) to disease, drought, cold, dampness, etc., fragrance, coloration, regularity and time of bearing, quantity or quality of extracts, rooting ability, timing or duration of flowering season, etc.

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Hi @beth,

Reading this article

The article might quote you inaccurately but there is a difference between “making breeders’ data public” and “open-sourcing”.

An open source license DOES protect breeders, as opposed to lose public domain status.

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Public domain status is a type of open source. For example, under Open Data Commons, one of the licenses is a public domain license:

It’s an open source license that simply specifies that data commons are in the public domain. It’s one that we also, a few weeks ago, attributed to data.opencannabisproject.org.

I agree with you that an open source license with a ShareAlike provision is better than public domain, but (a) we received the data we have when it was already in the public domain, and (b) as @reggie can attest, there has been a lot of debate about this internally. Ultimately we’ve kept everything in the public domain because that’s where it was when we got it. The 2017 and 2018 Cultivation Classic chemical data was put there too. We have not added any additional data since then, first for technical reasons, but I later shut down data input because of the data issues.

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@beth

The PDDL relates to putting data in the public domain.

This open source license I sent you would secure genetics in a safe haven. None of these could be used to breed patented varietals.

Only in a such a case, do the data pertaining to these varietals could be made public with no risk of data exploitation.

I think OCP has a timely opportunity to demonstrate that you are working for open collaboration, by issuing this open source breeding license (which could be used on a voluntary basis).

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We did consider this, but ultimately, thought it was better to close OCP as it existed. Many of us feel that there does need to be some phoenix that rises from the ashes so that some sort of licensing/data protection platform can be established that keeps controls of the genetics in the hands of those that create them. But that requires; money, infrastructure, legal support - in essence all the things OCP couldn’t do anyway cause there was never any funding.

SO, it is on THE COMMUNITY to come up with a plan to fund that entity, so that the community can protect itself. It needs to start from within, and be paid for and embraced by everyone with skin in the game. And companies like mine who are testing or genetics labs shouldn’t have board seats, but should be partners and could be relied upon for the data generation that is then wholly owned by the client and can be donated or used through the “entity”.

Please don’t for a second think this problem will go away on it’s own. If anything, the players waiting in the wings, will be chomping at the bit, since most everything is still barely characterized and in the public domain (@Strainly correct usage that time?). Something needs to happen, some system, some platform, something like the open source license that @Strainly has been mentioning. That was the goal of the independent OCP. That goal still needs to be realized for the betterment and safety of the Cannabis industry.

RIP OCP.

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100% agreed @reggie
Working on it as we’re speaking. Strainly will be an element of the answer.

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I am delighted to hear that. It has seemed like a natural fit for some time :slight_smile:

LMK if there’s anything I can do to help. #diagrams :slight_smile:

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Hi - thanks for your patience, it’s been a heavy few days!

I was thinking of something, and not like it hasn’t ever been considered, as it is indeed most obvious, but rather the question I have is why it was dismissed… There are hundreds of thousands, if not more, canna grow-threads. They most often have name of Breeder/House, photoperiod, photos, information on parental lines, probably information on potency, basic terpene descriptions, environmental conditions, and more. Why are these not considered valuable records?

This is a great question, and I’m sad to hear that people have dismissed this. I’ll do my best to answer, though note that a patent lawyer will be better able to speak to some of the technicalities.

The USPTO has very specific rules about what is considered Prior Art. You can read more about it here:

https://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/pac/mpep/s901.html

Most of what’s considered to be Prior Art are other patent documents, in and outside the US, as well as their citations. There are also other non-patent-documents, such as technical journals and other publications.

In that, a lot of the information that’s out there - such as Seedfinder - are not required for use as prior art. Other information, such as information shared on forums, may be seen as anecdotes, rather than actual evidence of something that exists.

Part of why lab results are handy for prior art is that they are dated and verifiable evidence of the existence of a plant.

Thus information on Seedfinder and elsewhere may be considered if a patent is countered, but they may not be considered by the patent office in prior art searches. Plus, if a patent application says “any cannabis plant with x or y terpene types and percentages,” and an entry on a site describing Plant A says, “this is a great Sativa that’s been crossed with Cultivar A and Cultivar B,” then there’s no way to say whether or not it counters the patent claim.

To make broader documentation work, it needs to be presented as “community knowledge,” or knowledge that is widely accepted by a community, and it needs to be broadly indexable and searchable.

An idea that is worth pursuing, and one that we had talked about, is creating physical documents and submitting them to the patent office. I am excited about hopefully incorporating that approach into the projects I take on next.

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