In 1970, the Plant Variety Protection Act was enacted authorizing the Secretary of Agriculture to issue a certificate of plant variety protection to the breeder of any novel variety of sexually produced plants. The plant variety certificate protection extends to both the plant and its seeds.

By contrast, the plant patent statute provides that one who either invents or discovers any distinct and new variety of plant and who also asexually reproduces the plant is entitled to a patent. A plant variety patent extends only to the plant and gives the patentee the right to exclude others from asexually reproducing the plant or selling or using the plant which has been reproduced.