Oregon State University

The Apples of Our Eyes

Innovation, Art, and Ownership in American Fruits

Historian Daniel J Kevles talks about early — and lovely — attempts to denote plant cultivars as intellectual property

7:00p Thursday 10 Apr 2008, Oregon State University


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Daniel Kevles

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Daniel J Kevles, the Stanley Woodward Professor of History at Yale University, teaches and writes about issues in science and society past and present. He has received various honors, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Page One Award, the Watson Davis Prize, and the History of Science Society’s George Sarton Medal for career achievement.

In his talk, Dan explains how innovation in fruits turned from a pastime of gentlemanly amateurs into a commercial business by the middle of the nineteenth century. A number of innovators tried to protect their fruits more precisely by commissioning colored lithographs and watercolors. However, registered illustration proved ineffective for IP protection in fruits, and horticulturalists resorted to alternative arrangements that included pricing, contracts, legislation, and in our own day, patents on genes.


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