Asgrow Seed Co. v. Winterboer, 513 U.S. 179, 9 (1995)

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Cite as: 513 U. S. 179 (1995)

Opinion of the Court

varieties for growing purposes. If they were, the Winter-boers were not eligible for the 2543 exemption, and the District Court was right to grant summary judgment to Asgrow.

The PVPA does not define "marketing." When terms used in a statute are undefined, we give them their ordinary meaning. FDIC v. Meyer, 510 U. S. 471, 476 (1994). The Federal Circuit believed that the word "marketing" requires "extensive or coordinated selling activities, such as advertising, using an intervening sales representative, or similar extended merchandising or retail activities." 982 F. 2d, at 492. We disagree. Marketing ordinarily refers to the act of holding forth property for sale, together with the activities preparatory thereto (in the present case, cleaning, drying, bagging, and pricing the seeds). The word does not require that the promotional or merchandising activities connected with the selling be extensive. One can market apples by simply displaying them on a cart with a price tag; or market a stock by simply listing it on a stock exchange; or market a house (we would normally say "place it on the market") by simply setting a "for sale" sign on the front lawn. Indeed, some dictionaries give as one meaning of "market" simply "to sell." See, e. g., Oxford Universal Dictionary 1208 (3d ed. 1955); Webster's New International Dictionary 1504 (2d ed. 1950). Of course, effective selling often involves extensive promotional activities, and when they occur they are all part of the "marketing." But even when the holding forth for sale relies upon no more than word-of-mouth advertising, a marketing of goods is in process. Moreover, even if the word "marketing" could, in one of its meanings, demand extensive promotion, we see no reason why the law at issue here would intend that meaning. That would have the effect of preserving PVPA protection for less valuable plant varieties, but eliminating it for varieties so desirable that they can be marketed by word of mouth; as well as the effect of requiring courts to ponder the difficult question of how much promotion is necessary to constitute marketing. We

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