Yesterday I mentioned that the geraniums I had bought had propagation prohibited on the tag. Essentially the plant developer holds the rights to that plant so you are not supposed to propagate the plant by asexually means such as cuttings or divisions. You can however propagate the plant through pollination meaning you can collect seeds it produces. On the surface the Plant Holder's Rights offers protection to the plant developer for their intellectual property. However, it is up to the plant developer to enforce their rights. They must go through the court system for damages if someone infringes on the Plant Holder's Rights. Herein lies some of the problems with the Plant Holder's Rights.
- The only policing of Plant Holder's Rights is the person (company) who owns the rights to their protected plant. The onus is on them to provide evidence that you are asexually propagating their protected plant and selling or otherwise distributing it. Unless the plant has been rendered sterile through the hybridization it would be difficult to determine visually if propagation had been asexual or sexual. Genetically suspected plants could be tested but the reality is this is costly and not really feasible unless a lot of money is at stake.
- They cannot legally enter onto your property to see if you are propagating their protected plant. In extreme cases where there is sufficient evidence that you are selling their protected plant in amounts that would indicate that you were propagating large numbers of them, they might be able to get a warrant.
- Plant tags get lost all the time. As a home gardener it is easy to remember the names of plants but whether one is protected or not is a detail easily forgotten especially over the years. In a mature garden tags more than likely are non-existent. Adding to this problem is people often move inheriting whatever plants the previous owner planted in the gardens. Without plant tags the new homeowners have no idea whether a plant in the garden at the house the just moved into is a protected plant or not so may easily propagate the plant via cutting or division.