Exclusivity for heirlooms
I realize this topic is not directly about growing tomatoes. But I would like to know if there are any legal "ownership" rights to heirloom tomato varieties (and their "NAMES")? Like some kind of patent or intellectual property rights or licensing ?
As in I could "develop" a "new" OP variety and name it, say, "Willie Gates Green" (with the permission of the person or entity referenced in the name) and execute some legal instrument to effectively make that variety (e.g., its NAME) my property for a certain period of time ? And thus not allow others to market it under that name unless they license its name from me. Of course one could just rename and sell it under the newly named variety and (if necessary) claim, for instance, that it was seed sent from an unknown source or was some sort of weird cross or mutation.
Case in point here: I presume a commercial vendor could grow stock for "Rostova" OP tom seeds and market them as "Rostova" (without any licensing agreement) but not as " Sunset's Red Horizon", even if they are the same variety.
In a related issue curious to me, I see several "dehybridized" hybrids (e.g., Big Beef) marketed as OP varieties whislt retaining the same name as the hybrid. Maybe rights to a (tomato variety) name expire after a certain length of time.