Jason Cope, PowerPollen CIPO, explains how the company’s patent strategy supports their overall business goals to increase scale and impact globally.
Why are patents important to PowerPollen?
JASON COPE, CIPO: Patents are just one form of intellectual property (IP) that many science- and technology-based companies use to protect their inventions. As a start-up ag tech company, all forms of IP are important, but patents are particularly important because they allow us to protect the research our scientists and engineers have done and the discoveries that have stemmed from that work. It helps to think of IP in the same way that we think of other business assets we invest in, such as farm equipment. We protect those assets by proper care and maintenance, as well as with insurance. Since we invest in our research and our talent as foundational to business growth, we want to protect the discoveries that come from our work. Protecting our IP by filing patents is another way that we protect our business assets.
In addition, IP can help us develop collaborative partnerships with other organizations. Sometimes there are technologies owned by other companies that we’d like to use. Likewise, other companies want to use our technologies. We use our IP as one of the foundational building blocks to form good relationships with other companies by cross licensing our patents, or by making other similar agreements that allow the exchange of rights in IP.
Patents also help our team by giving them a tangible reminder of their success. In a way, being a listed inventor on a patent is like being an author or an artist. It is a permanent record of an individual’s contributions to an area of technology, which is a great benefit to their career path. We’re proud of the work our team does, and we celebrate their success in many ways, including patents.
How do the patents provide any benefits to growers?
COPE: A grower who wants to use PowerPollen’s technologies wants to be sure they are getting the best value for their money. Other companies may try to copy our techniques, but without licensing our patents, they can’t offer the same quality of service and results. By patenting our technology, we protect it so that when customers do business with us, they know they will receive the best results that the technology can provide. Those results are backed up with significant research, development and data. If a customer isn’t using our patented methods, their results simply won’t measure up. Strong patents block competitors from providing copycat services that give second rate results.
In addition, our customers know they can rely on PowerPollen for measurable results. As we expand our services and products, customers will know that they’re purchasing a high-quality, thoroughly tested service or product. These aren’t short-lived technologies – they’re our core business and we’re proud to offer our growers a reliable, protected technology.
We already have issued US patents covering grain production methods and pollen preservation, both of which are fundamental to our service portfolio.
What other patents do you have in the works?
COPE: Our patent applications remain confidential until they are published by the patent offices in the countries where we have filed the applications. I can’t tell you about all of them, but I can tell you that we have published applications relating to seed production, as well as additional IP related to grain production, such as specific methods of how the pollen is applied in grain fields. We are continuing with a series of patent applications on pollen preservation technologies. In addition, we’ve got an application pending that relates to improved methods of selecting plants for breeding trials.
What is the competitive landscape for IP with pollination technologies?
COPE: PowerPollen was the first company to develop scaled technologies to collect, preserve and apply pollen to row crops. These enablements positioned us with what is known as a first mover advantage. As a first mover, we were able to present the patent office with claims that were the first of their kind in pollination technologies. Since several of these patents have granted, PowerPollen is positioned as a clear leader in this technology space. PowerPollen plans to continue to proactively file for patents as we discover additional pollination enabling technologies with the end goal of helping seed and grain producers feed an ever-growing population.