IFG Ends Successful IP Infringement Case in South Africa
BAKERSFIELD, Calif., Feb. 09, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — INTERNATIONAL FRUIT GENETICS LLC (IFG) After several years of sometimes acrimonious lawsuits, IFG has finally come to the end of infringement proceedings in which it sought to protect its proprietary grape varietals in the Western Cape, South Africa.
During 2010, IFG concluded a suite of licensing, planting, and marketing agreements with a table grape grower in Paarl, South Africa, as well as other associated farming entities. In terms of the agreements, the grower was licensed to plant, grow and market several IFG grape varieties in South Africa, which was done successfully over several years. However, during an inspection, IFG determined that this grower had unlawfully propagated some of the varietals beyond license limits and was growing and propagating an IFG varietal before protection for the variety was granted in South Africa. Upon further investigation, IFG determined that the grower had stolen a slip of the varietal from one of the IFG founder’s vineyards in California while visiting and had transported it to South Africa, where it was grafted, propagated, and commercially grown.
Due to the growers’ unlawful conduct, IFG canceled all of the agreements it had with the licensee and asked that the grower to cease all use of IFG’s proprietary plant material and destroy all IFG proprietary plant material by cutting off all vines below the graft union. Unfortunately, the grower refused to do so, forcing IFG to take more drastic measures, including the freezing of bank accounts and contempt of court proceedings for failure to comply with the court’s orders.
Ultimately, when it became clear to the grower that IFG was taking the necessary steps required to protect their intellectual property, the grower agreed and complied by cutting the vines below the graft union on all IFG varietals.
This case marks a stunning success for IFG and for all owners of plant breeders’ rights, which are an extremely valuable form of intellectual property. Respect of these rights allows breeders globally to make the continued investments, ensuring that the table grape industry has a bright and vibrant future.
“It was a long road, and we are glad to come to the end of it, but we have no regrets,” said Andy Higgins, CEO of IFG. “Our intellectual property rights are the heart of our business, and we need to protect them. We will not hesitate to take similar action in other parts of the world should there be a need to do so.”
For more information, visit www.ifg.world