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University of Iowa News Release

 

June 27, 2007

Law Professor Helps Farmers Understand Intellectual Property Law

A University of Iowa law professor is helping farmers understand how intellectual property law may affect routine planting and harvesting operations.

Law professor Mark Janis and the American Farm Bureau Federation have developed a question-and-answer guide on intellectual property law, tailored to plant agriculture.

"Agriculture is a high tech industry today.  Anyone involved in it is likely to encounter intellectual property law issues," said Janis, an intellectual property law expert and a member of the law school's Innovation, Business and Law group. "We wrote this guide as a service for growers to help them deal with those issues."

The guide is written in plainspoken language in a simple question-and-answer format that explains legal and scientific terms, he said.

"You have to look hard to find straight answers in a complex field like intellectual property law," said Janis. "We took great care to present the abstract legal concepts in a context that's relevant to growers, using language that's accessible to everyone."

The guide explains the differences between the various types of protections that patent holders enjoy for their products, such as plant patent protection and plant variety protection, and also covers technology agreements.

It also lays out several possible situations that growers might face in the everyday operation of their business and how the law might apply. For instance, under current law, can a grower save patented seed from one year's crop for replanting the next year? (The answer is no, Janis said, and the guide explains why.)

The guide will be sent to all state Farm Bureaus across the country.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Service, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Snee, 319-384-0010, tom-snee@uiowa.edu.