For those of you who never thought they'd read an article in which the terms “patent infringement” and “mushrooms” were juxtaposed — Oh happy day, your time has come.
In recent years, items even erstwhile patent clerk Albert Einstein couldn't have conceived of have won the patent office's seal of approval. So, yes, you can patent a mushroom. And if someone else starts growing it — you can sue them.
That's just what Watsonville-based Amycel, Inc. did earlier this month. The company was last year granted a patent for “Brown Mushrooms for Commercial Production.” Amycel sells its patented brown mushrooms throughout the realm by offering “mushroom spawn” — mushroom fungal cultures transferred onto sterilized grain, which then serve as “seeds.” Via this “spawn” you can grow your own “Brawn” or “Heirloom” mushrooms.
But Amycel filed suit in San Francisco superior court claiming a rival company stole its “Heirloom,” so to speak.