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AgriFood Tech

Harness IP protects AgriFood Tech brands and innovators from the farm to the boardroom table.

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Harness IP wins the respect of AgriFood Tech companies by building customized IP strategies that maximize their competitive advantage in their specific markets. Our attorneys understand that the AgriFood industry is especially complex and that success is not the same for all business models or market segments.

Whether the backbone of a client’s success rests on superior quality, ingredients, packaging, distribution, branding, or some combination thereof, we take the time to understand their strategic plan and current positioning. We then apply our legal and business experience to build out the full complement of IP rights — including patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets, confidentiality agreements, and licensing agreements — to develop an integrated strategy that turns IP assets into real world business value.

We also see the challenges facing our clients: delivering more nutrition to a growing population, transitioning to sustainable practices and clean materials, confronting climate change, adapting to consumer demand, and embracing on-demand systems and other new technologies. Our mission is to help businesses tackle these challenges and accelerate human progress through innovation.

Experienced Patent & Trademark Attorneys

With nearly 100 intellectual property attorneys — including trained chemists, biologists, and mechanical, electrical, and environmental engineers — Harness IP offers experience in protecting practically every technology and branding element that grows under the umbrella of an AgriFood system. 

Our experience includes leading technologies and branding rights in the following AgriFood Tech fields:

  • Agriculture, including farm data management systems; heavy machinery, mechanical equipment, and telematics and GPS systems; seed coating and sorting machines; fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides; hybrid plants and plant breeding; and livestock husbandry and animal nutrition
  • Consumer food and beverage products, including vegetarian and allergy-friendly diets, flavor enhancers and sweeteners, alcoholic beverages, and pet food
  • Distribution, including smart pallets, stackable shipping containers, and logistics and tracking technologies
  • Manufacturing and processing, including ingredient chemistry, fermentation, distillation, and equipment for factories and fields
  • Packaging, including designs, materials, and packaging equipment for assembly lines
  • Point of sale, including point of sale systems, vending or dispensing machines, mobile apps, and automated retail and restaurant systems
  • Waste management, including recycling and recyclable technologies

Industry Knowledge Put to the Test

Harness IP is in the business of solving IP problems so our clients can stay focused on their business. Just as the AgriFood Tech cycle sees products go from farm to factory to consumer, we see innovation go from idea to protected IP asset to market advantage. We defend food, beverage, and agriculture companies facing IP disputes in virtually any forum, including state and federal courts, before the International Trade Commission, in mediation or arbitration proceedings, and in Inter Partes Review proceedings before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board.

AgriFood Tech companies of all sizes and in every phase of the business life cycle approach Harness IP for counsel on their IP needs. For one start-up client, we serve as “virtual” in-house patent counsel to guide them through the patenting process and protect their system for large scale, sustainable, and eco-friendly plant production. Once harvested, the plants are used in numerous food products, nutraceuticals, and animal feed products — some of which we have also helped the company trademark. Our counsel has enabled the young company to divest itself from a previous agreement with a university while leveraging the IP assets we helped them obtain to attract new investors.

The firm also prepares and prosecutes patents directed to commercial ovens and refrigerators for both restaurant settings and large scale food manufacturing plants. For large scale operations, our attorneys protect the processing equipment as well as the processes used to produce food, providing competitive advantages on both fronts. For clients in agriculture and crop harvesting, our attorneys have handled disputes concerning patent ownership, set up trade secret agreements, and negotiated licenses for copyrights pertaining to food recipes and photos — all in addition to obtaining patents on a range of equipment and heavy machinery involved in growing, harvesting, and sorting the crops.

On behalf of one of the world’s largest sugar producers, Harness IP attorneys successfully handled an appeal to the USPTO that resulted in an issued patent for the client. Filing an appeal was the efficient move in this case because the Patent Examiner had taken up a hard line stance. Harness IP was able to reverse the Examiner’s position and obtain the patent without any additional amendments.

Legal Advantage

We understand the in-house dynamic that needs to take place to properly build and manage an IP portfolio  in the AgriFood Tech space. We work closely with in-house legal teams and are skilled at helping them facilitate communication between business and R&D leaders to reach company goals. We assist our food and beverage clients with matters ranging from invention harvesting to creating invention disclosure programs and obtaining patents that strategically block out their competitors.

Furthermore, our team of attorneys includes former in-house counsel with companies like Procter & Gamble and the Kellogg Company, giving us insider knowledge of the issues affecting consumer food brands and their relationships with upstream food producers. Bill Coughlin, a senior member of the firm’s leadership, is also a proud graduate of Michigan State University’s Organic Farmer Training Program and serves as a valuable resource for both attorneys and clients in agriculture.

Technical Advantage

Part of developing a patent and trademark portfolio in the AgriFood Tech field includes analyzing the industry’s IP landscape as well as the portfolios of specific competitors. Harness IP has access to numerous IP databases and proprietary systems that allow us to produce detailed IP landscape reports. We use these reports to help our clients identify whitespace opportunities, make informed decisions before entering new markets, and find opportunities for monetizing and licensing key technologies.

Additionally, our clients see immediate benefits from having their important IP assets monitored by our highly customized docketing system. Businesses in the AgriFood Tech have particularly large trademark or patent portfolios that often span several international jurisdictions. Managing the due dates for pending office actions or maintenance fees requires careful attention for large and mid-size companies with sizable portfolios. Our proprietary docketing software eliminates worry by continually monitoring and confirming our data, including the verification of all incoming matters, daily USPTO communications, due dates, and fees. Once the data is in our system, we are able to set up a secure online portal where clients can view all pertinent information about their assets, see upcoming dates, upload documents, and download reports. Known as HDConnect, this portal is built and maintained at no charge to our clients.