Seed World

Chris Holly Wants Companies to Leverage IP


Born and raised in the Mississippi Delta, Chris Holly spent his summers working in the agriculture industry and developed a passion for the sector. He credits his first real job as a “spot sprayer” on a large cotton and soybean farm — so he’s been in the industry a long time!

But it wasn’t until he graduated from college that he transformed his interest in agriculture into a bigger endeavor at Mississippi State, where he received a PhD for his research sponsored by the USDA — and he’s continued to follow his passion even in his legal life, where he’s now a partner at the global law firm Cooley LLP and co-heads the AgTech patent practice.

“I spend my time advising cutting-edge companies and sustainability leaders that are pushing the boundaries of what is possible in the agriculture, synthetic biology, food microbiology and biotechnology industries,” Holly, one of Seed World’s Top 10 Next Gen Leaders, says. “My goal is to help disruptive startup companies in these sectors create and leverage robust IP portfolios, carve out valuable IP space, monetize IP assets and position themselves for acquisition, IPO or successful commercial launch.”

Three things make the industry unique to him: innovation and the constant desire to continue to evolve; commitment to its mission of feeding the global population; and integrity — the seed industry is so tightly knit, and every company has a lot of respect for one another, even if they are competition.

But, remember: even if we treat competitors as family, intellectual property (IP) protection is still important to drive innovation, Holly says.

“IP protection is the way that seed companies protect the time, effort, and expense that is involved with innovation,” he says. “Our industry is faced with one of the most important and humbling missions imaginable, feeding the world. The innovation required to meet this mission must be robust, and IP protection facilitates and allows private companies to make such investments.”

Want to read more from our Top 10? Check out:

Anya Gandy Takes Sustainability to the Next Level

Magan Lewis Creates Sparks in Those Around Her

Seed World Announces 2022’s Top 10 Next Generation Leaders

Jordan Cremer Says Building Trust is Key to Working with Customers

Catherine Frans Stands with Independent Seed Companies