James Weatherly serves as the Seed Innovation and Protection Alliance executive director.

As executive director of the Seed Innovation & Protection Alliance, James Weatherly has experience protecting intellectual property rights in the United States and internationally. We get his take on the issues.

Seed World: What are you reading?

James Weatherly: “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind,” by Yuval Noah Harari. I enjoy books on human history and why our societies developed in the ways they did.

SW: What concerns you most about IP protection?

JW: In general, I am concerned that there is a lack of understanding across the broader agriculture community of the value of innovation and basic need to innovate, which can lead to a lack of respect for intellectual property rights. We need to continue to communicate the value of these innovations, the need for investments in seed research as well as the critical importance of protecting new discoveries along with respect for the intellectual property around these discoveries — all so plant breeders and other innovators can continue to focus on developing seed improvements that benefit us all.

SW: What are the Top 3 priorities for SIPA for 2017?

JW: Increasing awareness and understanding across the agriculture industry on the full value of seed innovation through education and implementation of IP protection best practices as developed by SIPA members; increasing awareness of the SIPA Tip Line and the value it brings to members and the industry for compliance and support of investment in IP protection; and growing and developing contributing membership in the SIPA program.

SW: Areas you’re responsible for?

JW: I am responsible for initial outreach and education on innovation and IP to our SIPA members and the agriculture industry. This includes working with members and the industry, in addition to facilitating education and outreach with third parties. I also manage the day-to-day operations and administration of the SIPA program.

SW: How do you help people reach consensus?

JW: Our members have a common appreciation of the value and importance of innovation, as well as a desire to promote respect of intellectual property rights. There are a wide range of philosophies within our membership on how to approach IP protection, but SIPA’s goal is to provide as much education and resources related to intellectual property as possible, supported by best practices, so our members can find their own path to IP protection.

SW: What are you working on now?

JW: We are developing educational materials and resources. Our members have access to a variety of materials at, including the SIPA IP Enforcement Readiness Checklist, educational materials on the value of innovation, as well as the different types of intellectual property that are available.

I’m really excited about the Technical Education Units that we are planning for 2017 that are open to all free of charge. These provide a unique opportunity to network with industry peers as you learn more about IP in agriculture.