Petite Knock Out Rose - AVOID

Meilland and Star have introduced a mini “Knock Out” rose and guess what? They have gone “full Monsanto” with it. They posted this to Garden Web - Houzz about it.

"Star® Roses and Plants

The Petite Knock Out® Rose ('Meibenbino’ PP 30,811) will be the first rose covered by a U.S. Utility Patent, which protects the introducer by restricting any party from hybridizing with it. Whereas a standard plant patent restricts propagation, a utility patent restricts much more. Breeding, propagation, reproduction from or development of this variety is strictly prohibited with a utility patent. Because The Petite Knock Out® Rose, the first-ever, miniature Knock Out® Rose, is so unique, our company, Star® Roses and Plants, felt this plant was worthy of this level of protection. This particular variety has more versatility and flower power than any rose, making it extremely special to the world of flowers. We look forward to seeing what The Petite Knock Out® Rose brings to the market. Thank you for your cooperation and support, which we greatly appreciate."

So, no matter how good it may be, I would seriously avoid having it anywhere near your roses for fear of some of its pollen accidentally “infecting or contaminating” your breeding lines. PROVE “the bees did it!”

Is a sealed, self-contained, enviro-friendly, humidty and temp regulated life support cloche included in the price ? … marketing department in over-drive

Screen Shot 2020-01-27 at 1.27.50 PM.png

Kim, photograph a bee sitting on one of the flowers, then photoshop. This is ridiculous.

This is from rikuhelin 1 post
Is a sealed, self-contained, enviro-friendly, humidity and temp regulated life support cloche included in the price ? … marketing department in over-drive
They most probably started a complete new department for it LOL


I’ve long thought the patent laws surrounding utility patents seem highly problematic for something that reproduces sexually (as have a very large number of smarter folks than I) and I have to believe the courts will eventually be forced to change those laws. (…Though not with the courts we are getting now). With Crispr technology, it seems it is becoming a bit too easy to edit and “tag” a plant with a genetic marker such that anyone utilizing its offspring can be prosecuted, even if its the bees fault.

Star is a business, and unfortunately this may prove to be a profitable business decision for them. I don’t know if there is any hope that folks’ displeasure might generate enough bad press surrounding this sort of monopolizing of a gene pool to prevent further such travesties, but until then, this might become the way of the future with any product which might promise profitability enough. Monsanto continued to reap huge profits after the whole Percy Schmeiser ordeal.

I would love to know what they altered on this rose’s gene.

It’s either GMO or just plain old bull shit. Utility patents are worthless, I want one!


Hi RBaxter, I am in Australia and have no idea what a “utility patents” is but if I find one, will you purchase it off me please, no doubt is worth money. LOL


I hope Jonathan Windham doesn’t mind me posting here what he wrote on Facebook, which is a good summary of the situation:

Begin quote:

Recently, Star Roses and Plants has decided to introduce the first rose ever to be covered under a utility patent.

This means that no one will be allowed to use it for breeding purposes. If some of its pollen makes its way into my yard and pollinates one of my own hybrids (which I created myself), I could be legally prosecuted for “using” their invention without authorization, should any seeds result from that union.

If this rose produces seed in your yard and that seed germinates in your flower bed, technically you’ve violated their patent.

Utility patents on plants is not new, but this is not the direction the rose industry should take. Doing so will stifle the industry as a whole while the private breeding programs around the country that are producing some seriously unique cultivars die out.

Spring is coming. Please consider not purchasing Star Roses and Plants new Petite Knock Out® Rose ('Meibenbino’ PP 30,811)

There are literally dozens of other miniature, red, healthy landscape roses available that won’t get someone like me (or you) in legal trouble.

-------end quote

As a breeder and the owner of.a retail nursery, my choice is even more stark. I have about 300 roses on order from Star. (which admittedly is a tiny, tiny, drop in their bucket.) Do I get up in arms about this and cancel my entire order? Stop ordering from them in the future and let them know why? That would disallow me from selling a few good roses such as Cancan…and, whoa, Cherry Frost. What about submitting roses for testing? Star had seemed like a great company to work with as a breeder.

It appears they are taking a page from the “Provin Winnurs” playbook. (spelling changed cuz you know damn well they google themselves…I’ve gotten a phone call about Facebook posts that were missing the trademark symbol.) That company makes you agree to a ridiculously broad non-propagation agreement that seems to include sexual reproduction to even order from them. All sports that show up in your stock are “theirs” and you’re required to send them back. They force nurseries like us to put their stuff in ugly white pots that dilutes our own branding. But they’ve got a lock on varieties such as Vsta Bubblegum Pet-unia and Incrdib&ll Hydrangea that are essentially necessities to sell in the trade, so I bite my tongue and jump through their obnoxious hoops.

Am I going to do the same with Star? I feel betrayed, but as someone mentioned it probably is a good business decision for them. What if they licensed me to breed with it if I released the resulting roses through them? Would I suddenly feel better about it?

How can we fight this at a legislative level? Could we (who exactly?) group together and hire a lobbyist to get legislation passed that explicitly forbids this type of genetic overreach?

I’m starting to appreciate how politicians feel when they’re groping blindly in a dark closet trying to find their conscience. I don’t know whether to capitulate or make a stand that would hurt myself more than Star. I don’t know how upset I should be about what could be a practical business decision. I appreciate the thoughts you post here.

Is this the start of a trend? I seriously hope not…

“What if they licensed me to breed with it if I released the resulting roses through them? Would I suddenly feel better about it?”
I kind of doubt it. Their patent means that they would hold all the cards in any negotiations, if indeed they even felt any reason to negotiate.

Ball Horticultural, and hence star, have become very very large. They are beholden to their shareholders, I would imagine. No doubt, they calculate that this will be a profitable decision.
If so, with crispr technology getting cheaper, it may become a more common thing.

I am speaking as someone with very little knowledge about the business or the market, but Joe, you are first and foremost a business. It would not make sense for you to cut off your nose to spite your face. Jacques seems a readily approachable person. It might warrant tactfully broaching the topic with him, but I would certainly not risk burning any Bridges in your situation.

The only thing that would change this moving forward, is if they found it was not profitable. I seriously doubt there will be enough outrage to disincentivize them from doing this moving forward. The Knock out line is highly profitable for star. This will fill a niche in the mass commercial fill-it-with-easy-color landscape Market. Time was hybridizers used to refuse to introduce plants that made excellent breeders until they finished mining them for their genetics. Star has found a workaround. They can profit from the sales while exclusively profiting from progeny.

Given the assumption the tracer gene (if it exists) is from the unknown grandparent, isnt it statistically likely the gene will fail to pass on?

Has anybody seen the patent?

These days, DNA techniques are so cheap that you don’t really need a specific single gene to tag. Just compare a bunch of markers on several chromosomes that represent the haplotype (particular arrangement of different alleles in this cultivar). Works exactly like the DNA database that the govt uses to keep track of everyone’s identity (so far only those who’ve had certain kinds of contacts with law enforcement, differing from state to state). Look up CODIS to read all about it for humans.

A nursery would only bother running tests if they suspected someone was deliberately using their special line like a blue rose to breed new blue ones. Or if the market is in the million dollar range. For about $500 you can get the primers if you know what you want to look at. But the labor involved soon adds up. Plus trying to take someone to court is expensive. Unless the case is absolutely certain it isn’t worth losing and being embarrassed and having to pay damages to someone like Joe for spoiling his image in his community.

If perchance the plant is question is made using a certain CRISPR modification, then you could just look for that specific DNA sequence. It would be 99.99% likely to be unique and easier to test for. However in Europe CRISPR modifications are considered GMO so marketing there would not be legal, so not likely.

There’s a good story in all of this somewhere if someone has the time to dig out the facts, and sort out the bluffing.

It doesn’t appear that the USPTO has approved the utility patent application yet; you can find that here: United States Patent Application: 0190380294

Given one parent is Double Knock Out which in itself would be similar to Knock Out (being siblings) it limits what exactly they’ll have to compare to given anything bred from Petite is going to be fairly closely related and share a whole bunch of things with that side of the lineage. Limits it to the other side given it’s lack of availability in the US. It’d be funny if the markers they use to compare to are from DKO.

Go a few generations down the line and the situations becomes murky if they are relying on pre-existing genes.

CRISPR are considered GMOs under existing EU regulation and are very restricted in marketing. Also, utility patents are not permitted on plants that are results of natural processes or replicas of the natural processes (e.g. cross-pollination…).

Thus, the patent application if ever submitted in EU, and many other markets, is not enforceable. There are other forms of protection in EU (e.g. Plant variety property rights). However, any of those protections is applicable only to the specific rose and not to progeny of it due to lack of uniformity (it will be different from the original rose in many regards).

Anyone is free for crossing with the rose (even in the US) and tending for the offspring but you are not allowed to gain financial benefit from them without a licence.
“Present it to your relative/friend” outside of US. He/she (either directly or through any company) can benefit by selling it. If the money stays outside of the US, e.g. spent for traveling, invested in some international fund, by the “friend” all good. If you bring the money to US…well that is whole new level of magic.
Utility patents are dated and once it expires you can start selling in US.

This is one of many many ways. The main question is: is the rose really so much better parent then others out there?
Chances for breeding something special are nonetheless small. How many of you at all have overlapping breeding goals thinking that this rose is superior parent to reach those goals?

Personally, I do not see such a big issue with the patent application.

Srdjan, thanks for that information about the EU.

I don’t understand what CRISPR’s are? Are they GMO?

Edit: I just tried looking up CRISPR, and I understand that it is slightly different from GMO in that they just re-arrange genes already in that plant as opposed to GMO which introduces alien genes. I still don’t understand it really. The one minute video I watched sounded heavily biased in favour of CRISPR, though it simplified the science.

The EU have been fantastic about banning GMO’s, and here in the UK we have been very lucky that our food is mostly non-GMO.

If this new rose is GMO, there is a good chance, I hope, that the EU would ban it outright as a threat to natural plants. I read recently that a newly developed GMO blue rose cannot be released yet outside a laboratory for fear it would affect other plants.

I didn’t realise this Petite Knock Out Rose was GMO. If it is it looks as though the EU will protect Europeans by banning it outright, but as the UK is leaving the EU I fear for this one slipping through the net and being permitted in the UK. Maybe British people need to watch this one carefully and be pro-active in not allowing this rose to be permitted in the UK in the first place.

CRISPR technology is an umbrella term for a group of methods and tools used for very precise and fine editing of genetic material. CRISPR can edit genome very precise (down to a single nucleotide resolution and precision) and without introducing foreign sequences into the target genome. However, with certain modifications the basis technology can also be used to introduce transgenes.
Definition of GMO is getting to be very confusing and it is hard to answer if CRISPR derived organisms are GMOs or not. EU regulation claims that they are. I’ll restrain from stating my view on the topic but I’ll say that it is a very powerful technology advancement for sure!

The rose doesn’t seam like being a GMO.

So it appears that there are two patents for Petite Knock Out® Rose MEIBENBINO, to consider. The first has been awarded and is a standard plant patent so is pretty non-controversial. The second is a utility patent which is unusual for a plant and has elements that, I believe, deserve scrutiny.

Before I comment on the utility patent application for Petite Knock Out® Rose MEIBENBINO I want to make it clear that I generally support patent protection for breeders of plants and animals alike including utility patents where they are warranted. I also object strenuously to the wholesale demonization of genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) and specifically of the Monsanto Company’s accomplishments in that regard. I met some members of the team from Washington University that developed the original cloning vectors for Monsanto and know them to be honorable scientists with altruistic motives. The technology they developed was given freely to the world and has been used effectively to prevent malnutrition and starvation on a massive scale.

I have reviewed the utility patent application as posted at Patent Public Search | USPTO and I believe it to be fatally flawed. It is not clear whether the patent has already been awarded. If it has I think it should be rescinded and if it has not I think it should be withdrawn by Meilland or rejected by the United States Patent Office.

The patent application is extensive and exhaustive and, as such, is breathtaking in the scope of the claims that it seems to make. I am left with the impression that it claiming protection for every aspect of floriculture and hybridization that exists. Moreover, and most importantly, the application never specifically identifies the precise genetic transformation(s) it seeks to protect but only refers to non-specific transformations that affect some itemized phenotypic expressions. That is to say the claims for protection are based on the outcome of the transformations, the appearance and such traits as disease resistance, that are or should have already been covered in the extant plant patent and so are redundant in that regard.

Moreover, the application seeks to protect certain, but not specified, transformations that are referred to generally as being quantitative trait loci, qtl’s, while never specifying exactly which qtl’s in which combination are being claimed for protection. More alarming still is that the claim for protection regarding these quantitative traits is made without regard to whether or not they have been conducted through a means other than conventional breeding techniques.

It is my opinion that a patent such as this one would threaten our ability to conduct conventional hybridizing because the claims it contains are overly broad in scope; that the claims it contains are too general to deserve protection; and that a practitioner of the art could not successfully reproduce the object for which protection is claimed based on the information in the patent.

For these reasons I propose that the Rose Hybridizers Association, to protect our interests as an organization dedicated to plant hybridizing, should take steps to oppose the awarding of this patent if it is not too late to do so, or to have this patent rescinded if it has already been awarded.

If you have not already read the patent application I can recommend it as an educational tool. It is so sweeping as to be an expansive treatise on the subject of plant breeding and genetic engineering that easily serves as a survey of the art for novices.