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  • Denny Esford

Apple Picking – Why You’re Paying More for Newer Apples

Fall is officially here, and to many people, that means it is time for apple picking. With the wide variety of apples out there, it is hard to pick a favorite. Some prefer the more traditional Cortland, Macs, or Fuji. Others prefer the newer varieties of apples, like Honeycrisp and SnapDragons. These newer apples cost a little more, and while most people are willing to pay the higher cost, many don’t know why. What’s more, many would never guess that intellectual property is involved.


The newer, more popular apple varieties are typically hybrids, which means they were created by mixing the desired traits of two other apples together. Now, this doesn’t just happen on its own. These apples are researched and developed in labs. One of these labs, New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva (associated with Cornell University), is in Upstate New York, where apple picking is a common pastime. They are responsible for Empires, Cortlands, and the new craze, SnapDragons.


SnapDragons are the children of Honeycrisp and an apple similar to Jonagold. The name says a lot about the crunchy, sweet taste, but naming isn’t all that needs to be done with these new apples. The apples must be patented; that is, the inventors need to apply for a patent, just like with any other invention, and then the USPTO must approve it. This keeps others from developing similar apples, and from growing and selling them without paying royalties or licensing fees. Not only that, the name some varieties are trademarked, like the SweeTango apple. That means that, even when the patent expires, the name will still be registered as the sole source of that apple variety.


So, we all know how much fun it is to try the seemingly endless new varieties of apples that come out. Some of us may even have noticed that they are a bit more expensive. But now we know why; Apple computers aren’t the only kinds of apples that deal with intellectual property.

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