44 / SEEDWORLD.COM DECEMBER 2018 LOCKED UP: DISCOVER THE KEYS TO THE COMPLEX WORLD OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY. FOR CONSUMERS AND even some within the industry, there’s the notion that the use of intellectual property (IP) and all the intricacies that come with it delay and/or hurt product innovation and the ability of plant breeders and companies to get beneficial products into the hands of farmers. Seed World went to the experts who work on this day in and day out to hear their thoughts and find out if this is true. While the experts agree that it does take time, the innovation process is not hindered by the pro- cess — quite the opposite, according to one gent. Researchers need to be aware of intellectual property. “Researchers need to be aware of all the differ- ent types of IP and how they might be used,” says John Schoenecker, HM.CLAUSE director of intel- lectual property. “These include PVPs (plant variety protection), utility patents, copyrights, trademarks, patents and Plant Breeders’ Rights,” Schoenecker says. “The different types of IP and how they are used will determine a researcher’s freedom to operate.” Barry Nelson, who is a senior researcher at DuPont Pioneer, now Corteva Agriscience, says researchers need to ask three questions: • Do I have access to the germplasm or technology? • Are there limitations on the handling of the material? • If so, what are they? If you’re working with material from somebody else, Nelson says it’s important to understand the restrictions that come into play and what kind of language is in the contract. Nelson says there needs to be a review process that occurs; this might be a patent search and review of agreements. “Whether it’s internal or external, you need to get a legal opinion on how existing patents relate to material you want to use,” he says. “It’s not easy to understand for a lay person, so I recommend using a legal resource to review and help make sure you are in the clear and have the freedom to operate. “Internally, the process is pretty quick, but it really depends on the situation. Here, we automati- cally flag material if someone is trying to ship it. It may be settled with a two-minute phone call or it could turn into an exhaustive search, taking a few months.” Nelson advises researchers to always be recording their processes, whether it’s how some- thing is done or the results of the process. “In the back of your mind, always be asking ‘Is there something here that could be patentable or a trade secret?’” he says. He reminds researchers that whatever is done in the lab has to translate to the field. “You have the same freedom to operate issues [in the field] as you do in the lab,” Nelson adds. From a researcher’s point of view, just shipping seed can be fairly complex, phytosanitary issues aside, he explains. With traits, you have to know where they can be moved. You don’t want to move seed to a location where you don’t have IP rights, and it may even be illegal to test them there. As a researcher, Cecilia Chi-Ham, who serves as HM.CLAUSE director of innovation within the IP team, says it’s important to know what’s required by law and what’s the culture of the company. “The best practice in business is to respect each other,” Chi-Ham says. “This becomes an unwrit- ten rule of respecting other’s IP — the tone of the company is very important.” Schoenecker adds that Groupe Limagrain has made it very clear to employees that “we respect IP, and we want others to do the same.” Nelson says they have a team focused on compliance: regulatory, phytosanitary and legal. Seed World asked the question, “how does intellectual property impact research?” One expert turned this question on its head. Julie Deering jdeering@issuesink.com Does IP Hinder Innovation? “In the back of your mind, always be asking ‘Is there something here that could be patentable or a trade secret?’” — Barry Nelson