Patent law, espaliered figs?

I saw some recent posts on step-over or espaliered figs. I’m very excited to try it!

But I am confused about the intersection here between patent law and maximizing orchard efficiency. I came across Moshe Flaishman’s patent in 2010 where I think the patent mainly covers using an espalier design on fig trees and then some supplemental claims about pinching etc.

I am wondering – how is this patentable? How is it enforceable? If it’s truly patentable, when does this type of patent expire?

A couple of other fig forum posts are indicating that many growers owe Moshe some back-money for their productive orchards. If I hypothetically sell cuttings or even provide cuttings for postage – what kind of percentage would I owe Moshe Flaishman? The patent doesn’t say.

Theoretically, how many things differently from Moshe’s patent would I have to do in order to contend that my system is different enough?

Has anyone else considered these questions or have thoughts to share here?

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I wouldn’t worry about it. I’m no lawyer, but it reads like the patent is for a whole system that includes applying hormonal regulators. Other than that, everything else he describes can be pretty easily demonstrated to have been in use prior to him filing for the patent.

https://patents.justia.com/patent/7818915

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There is only one independent claim on the patent and it is a method claim for which it would be nearly impossible to demonstrate infringement. They would have to prove that you conducted “pruning to shorten woody portions of the vertical shoots during dormancyAND “nipping rapidly growing vertical shoots at least once during each growing season”. This is all assuming the patent isn’t invalidated by obviousness. I have come to view these types of patents as not worth the money to file and maintain and no longer even bother doing so in our patenting strategy.

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I agree this does not appear to be a sound investment of resources for a patent. I’m not sure why anyone would attempt to patent a pruning method, but more power to them for trying… People have been pruning fruit trees in various ways for centuries, likely thousands of years specifically for figs. It seems unlikely that what this patent says about pruning has not been done before, therefore it isn’t a novel idea and really can’t be enforced.

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Surely these posts were facetious—or written by Moshe Flaishman?

Prune however you please and don’t give this another thought. Even if this silly patent were enforceable (lol!), who’s going to drop a dime on you? Yourself?

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:laughing: Truthfully I had never seen anything like it before and I had to know! It’s likely that I was interpreting the other forum posts too literally. If nothing else, the patent gives a lot of fantastic information about how to espalier fig trees in particular.

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Specious patents are pretty common in the tech world. Companies will file dozens of patents on something just vague enough (such as a framework for a forum software such as this site) and use them to sue smaller companies that “infringe” knowing they’re likely to settle rather than fight a costly, hard to prove court battle. I don’t know if that is the purpose of this patent, but that’s what it makes me think of.

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Yea after reading a bit of it, I almost feel like it is a manual on how to infringe on the patent…

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This is the same thing with grape vine trellis. Someone can come up with a new design and apply for a patent on it. But it is still based on some existing trellis design. Same thing with orchard design etc.

I just do not think this type of patent (if can hold patent) can be enforceable.

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