Vertical farming is much like traditional farming, except that, instead of growing crops in vast fields, they are grown in layers stacked upon one another. The ability to stack crops is beneficial for several reasons, including that a lot more food can be grown in the same amount of square footage than with traditional farming. Vertical farming affords opportunities to grow food indoors in a climate-controlled environment and more efficiently with fewer resources; these opportunities are accompanied by the potential to take agriculture to the cities and help reduce food transportation.
Although many companies involved in vertical farming have emerged, methods are still far from perfect. The equipment is expensive and often undesirably inefficient from an energy standpoint (it takes a lot of electricity to mimic the sun). The good news is that innovators worldwide are working on solutions to make vertical farming more accessible and affordable.
Vertical farming in the patent world
Emerging industries, such as vertical farming, are often breeding grounds for “novel” and “non-obvious” inventions eligible for patent protection. The LexisNexis TotalPatent One® patent search platform shows that there have been nearly 200 patent applications filed for documents that expressly use the phrase “vertical farming” in either their title, abstract, or claims with the top ten global patent authorities (Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, Republic of Korea, Russia, the United States, the European Patent Office, and World Intellectual Property Organization). This does not account for any of the patent applications with applications in vertical farming that do not name it explicitly.
Not surprisingly, nearly all of the “vertical farming” patent documents fall into one or both of two main Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) sections – CPC Section Y02, which covers “technologies or applications for mitigation or adaption against climate change,” and CPC Section A1G, which covers “horticulture,” “cultivation of [food],” “forestry” and “watering.”
The top vertical farming assignee in the United States
To date, an Iowa-based startup Accelerated Ag Technologies is named as the assignee of the most “vertical farming” patent applications filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Using LexisNexis PatentAdvisor® patent prosecution analytics, we see that Accelerated Ag Tech has filed eleven patent applications with the USPTO since being founded in 2015, and six of those eleven applications eventually matured into granted patents. The other five patent applications are still pending, meaning Accelerated Ag Technologies still holds a 100 percent allowance rate in PatentAdvisor. That is not to say that all of their patents came easy – they do receive an average of 2.2 office actions before issuance and have received as many as four office actions for a single application—but they ultimately know how to get results in patent prosecution.
Vertical farming is likely to lead to inventions that help solve the world’s biggest problems. With the TotalPatent One global patent search platform and PatentAdvisor patent analytics, users can trace innovations in vertical farming wherever they grow.
- Learn more about TotalPatent One.
- Learn more about PatentAdvisor.
- For more on patent analytics read Patent Prosecution Analytics: No Longer Just a Nice to Have and watch the on-demand webinar.
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