Luther Burbank: Father of Plant Patents

Prior to the U.S. Plant Patent Act in 1930, plants could not receive patent protection. Like other products of nature, such as minerals or microorganisms, plants were excluded by statute or judicial review, relegated to the philosophy of a heavenly, not human, creator. However, one horticulturalist named Luther Burbank, who is credited with producing more than 800 varieties of new plants, is thought to be the inspiration that led to the Plant Patent Act, which is now codified in 35 U.S.C. § 161. While Burbank was never awarded a plant