Hmm, maybe I’m a very selfish person. I just love the fact that you can take a rose that is the result of someone’s years of hard work, cross it with another rose that is the result of someone else’s years of hard work, and boom, in one year you’ve got a rose that you can call your own that just might contain the good qualities that your predecessors have worked to instill.
Even open-pollinated seedlings, in my opinion, should be fair game. If you come up with an improvement, it is your work, time, resources, inspiration, and luck that have created that improvement. The breeder of the rose has also had the opportunity to grow open-pollinated seedlings of his or her own rose, and for longer than you have.
If someone snuck onto my land at night and took cuttings from some hypothetical breeding stock of mine, took them home and bred with them…that wouldn’t be right. Likewise, if a company or individual grew open pollinated seedlings of a cultivar with the intended purpose of creating a near-duplicate that could avoid royalties and be patented itself, that would be a little sleazy.
However, when I choose to share one of my roses with someone I will be flattered if they breed with it. I’d be a little jealous if they achieved commercial success with descendants of my rose, but I’d never resent it. I’d be proud to see my grandkids succeed. (And so many people on this forum have been so generous with me that I want very much to pay it back or pay it forward by sharing any good breeders that I come up with.)
Likewise, if I am ever lucky enough to release a patented rose, then it’s totally fair game for anyone to collect seed from it. The best analogy I can think of is with Words with Friends or Scrabble. If you put your “Z” on a triple letter it might open up the triple word for your opponent, and you have to decide whether to defensively hoard the “Z” or to play it and get the points. Once you put your letters on the board you’ve opened them up to being used by your opponent.
However, in rose breeding there really aren’t any “opponents.” That’s what is so beautiful. Every modern rose is the product of an endless flow of hybridizing efforts and natural selection. In one life we can never see the beginning or the end of that flow. We can cling to a rose for a little while, protect it and call it our own, but in the end we must release it back into the flow.