From the seed a farmer plants to the harvest they reap, there is intellectual property on every farm. To protect and monetize this valuable asset, farmers need to understand what types of intellectual property are found on the farm and how they can license it. Let's explore these two topics below.
Types of Farm Intellectual Property
Farm intellectual property falls under four main categories: trademarks, patents, copyrights, and trade secrets. A farm's type of intellectual property depends on the products or services offered. The most common forms are trademarks and patents.
Trademarks protect words, phrases, logos, symbols, or designs that identify a product, service, or source. Regarding farming operations, trademarks can be used to protect the names of farms and their products (e.g., Blueberry Acres' blueberries).
Patents protect inventions from being copied by others without permission. This includes machinery, equipment, and processes such as crop varieties developed through cross-breeding techniques. Patents give farmers exclusive rights to use their inventions for a certain period – usually around 20 years – before they enter the public domain for anyone else to use freely.
Copyrights protect original works of authorship, such as books, articles, and photos related to farming operations; this includes both published works (e.g., books about farming) and unpublished works (e.g., manuscripts or research papers). Copyrights grant owners exclusive rights over the reproduction and distribution of their works for a set period – usually 70 years after the author's death – before they enter the public domain for anyone else to use freely.
Finally, trade secrets refer to confidential information related to farm operations that gives you an edge over competitors in some way. This includes formulas for fertilizers or pesticides used in farming operations, customer lists or pricing strategies, etc., which must remain secret so they are not to be replicated by others without permission from the owner(s).
How to License Farm Intellectual Property
Once you have identified which types of intellectual property your farm has created or owns, you can begin licensing it to monetize your asset(s). Licensing agreements grant other parties permission (usually via a fee) to use your intellectual property in exchange for monetary compensation. This could involve rights such as limited exclusivity over specific markets/regions or complete exclusivity over the entire market, depending on what is specified in the agreement between the licensor and licensee(s).
Legal professionals should always review licensing agreements before both parties sign off on them. This ensures you and your licensing partner are protected from any potential legal issues due to misunderstandings or vague terms in licensing agreement.
If you're a farm owner, you have valuable intellectual property associated with your business operations, including trademarks, patents, copyrights, and trade secrets. And it is an untapped source of potential revenue. That's why it is essential to understand how IP and licensing work so you can monetize your IP assets while still protecting your interests legally throughout the process.
By understanding each type of farm IP asset that needs protection and best practices when entering into licensing agreements, farmer-owners can ensure they get appropriately compensated while maintaining ownership over their valuable assets at all times. With proper licensing guidance, licensing can generate long-term revenue for your farming operations.
Are you ready to license your farm IP? Contact us today to learn how our team of experts can help you with every step, from understanding your licensing options to negotiating the best deal for you and your farm business. With our help, you can generate revenue from your intellectual property and increase your farm's value.
Rand Brenner is an IP professional whose passion is helping inventors, startups, and businesses of all sizes use licensing to turn their IP into income-producing products, services, and technologies. His decades of experience run the gamut from medical devices to food technology to consumer products. He's licensed some of the biggest Hollywood entertainment blockbusters including the Batman Movies (1 and 2), and the number one kid's action TV show, the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Rand speaks about licensing and is a featured speaker at investment conferences, trade shows, colleges, and startup events. His first book, Hidden Wealth: The Money Making Power of Licensing was released in 2019 and is available on Amazon.com. He's also a published writer with articles appearing in several prestigious trade magazine including The Licensing Journal, Intellectual Property Magazine, and License India. Rand also mentors at the Cal State Fullerton School of Business and Economics and is a judge for their startup business plan competitions.