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Intellectual Property: Agriculture, Plant Science & Biotechnology

LeClairRyan offers a broad range of intellectual property services that are particularly focused on the needs of clients in the agriculture, plant science and biotechnology industries. We regularly assist clients with strategically managing their patent portfolios and work with them to protect and maximize the value of their intellectual property rights. Our team of attorneys, patent agents, and Ph.D. technical specialists offers a full range of intellectual property legal services in the areas of agriculture, plant science and biotechnology, including drafting patent applications and prosecuting them through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to issuance; managing foreign patent prosecution; rendering invalidity, non-infringement, and freedom-to-operate opinions; conducting intellectual property due diligence; preparing and negotiating license agreements; conducting inventorship analyses; litigating patents in both national and international venues; correcting patents through reissue; and challenging patents through reexamination.

Our legal experience in the agriculture area includes plant and crop improvement, plant breeding, food science, bioenergy, pest control, and agrochemical and fertilizer materials.

In the plant science area, we have experience with plant patents, plant variety certificates and utility patents directed to plant varieties and technologies. We have extensive experience with a variety of plant and crop species, including maize, soybean, papaya, banana, cotton, tobacco, date palm, rice, various vegetable plants, various fruit trees, and grape rootstock, among others. Our plant experience includes work on technologies related to transgenic plant production, breeding strategies, quantitative trait loci, disease and pest resistance, drought resistance, post-harvest disease management, and techniques and products used for generating transgenic organisms and multicellular organisms, including transgenic plants.

Members of our team possess a substantial depth of experience in post-issuance practice (interferences, inter partes reviews, reexaminations, reissues and oppositions). We have handled a number of interferences before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on various applications and patents in agriculture, plant science and biotechnology-related technologies. Examples include transgenic plants with pathogen derived resistance and replicase-mediated resistance in transgenic plants.

We routinely prosecute inter partes and reexamination applications as a strategic means to attack a competitor’s patent, either alone or in parallel with patent litigation. We have also utilized reissue applications to broaden or correct an issued patent as well as handle inventorship disputes. In addition, we work with foreign counsel to manage opposition proceedings, particularly in cases that involve corresponding U.S. patents. We have done this in both Europe and Australia.

We also possess extensive experience in licensing agriculture, plant science and biotechnology-related technologies with educational institutions, public-sector organizations, and industry. See e.g. Goldman M. 2007. “The IP Management of the PRSV-Resistant Papayas Developed by Cornell University and the University of Hawaii and Commercialized in Hawaii,” Intellectual Property Management in Health and Agricultural Innovation: A Handbook of Best Practices, eds. A. Krattiger, R. Mahoney, L. Nelsen, et al., MIHR: Oxford, U.K., and PIPRA: Davis, U.S. Available online at

Our clients range from leading companies to mid-size companies to start-ups. We have experience working with technology transfer offices of large and small universities as well as the licensees that hold rights in university-owned patents.