South Korean Intellectual Property High Court rules that Sweet Sapphire™ is a trademark

This article was originally published in Fresh Plaza Magazine. Click here to view the original article.

BLOOM FRESH, a fruit-breeding company created by the merger of Special New Fruit Licensing and International Fruit Genetics, LLC, is pleased to announce that the South Korean Intellectual Property High Court has ruled that the company’s grape variety brands Sweet Sapphire™ and Black Sapphire™ are valid trademarks of BLOOM FRESH and cannot be advertised as generic grape varietal names in retail locations.

Sweet Sapphire™ and Black Sapphire™ (trademarks of the patented variety named IFG Six) grapes are renowned for their sweetness, unique flavor, and aroma, with an unusual long shape with dimpled ends. “They have been customer favorites for nearly two decades in South Korea,” says a company release. Unfortunately, these grapes began entering the South Korean market as generic grapes, and not as the branded varietal it is.

Sweet Sapphire™ grapes

BLOOM FRESH has been working on securing legal support to protect their brand varieties in South Korea since 2019. BLOOM FRESH demonstrated to the Intellectual Property High Court through evidence of registrations and plant breeders’ rights that the patented variety named IFG Six and the trademark Sweet Sapphire™ were in wide use despite the Intellectual Property is owned by BLOOM FRESH, and its use belongs exclusively to its licensed growers and licensed marketers. BLOOM FRESH also demonstrated that the IFG Six grape variety has been imported into Korea since 2018 and Sweet Sapphire™ has been indicated as a trademark on the packaging during that time, as well as declared to the Korea Seed and Variety Service as a trade name for the IFG Six variety.

After reviewing the evidence, the Intellectual Property High Court ultimately reached a judgment in favor of BLOOM FRESH.

“This is a huge win for BLOOM FRESH and the entire produce industry,” said Kenneth Avery, CEO of BLOOM FRESH. “There is high demand for the distinctive and delicious premium table grape varieties our company develops. Because BLOOM FRESH did not have plant variety rights in Korea giving them direct protection over these grape varieties, this case was imperative to providing us with means to effectively protect our Intellectual Property and trademark rights in South Korea.

“BLOOM FRESH’s customers look for our branded table grapes whenever they shop for produce since they know that our trademark ensures quality. Utilizing a generic name or term dilutes our brand, putting customers at risk for purchasing grapes that don’t hold our high-quality standards. We would like to thank the Intellectual Property High Court and KIPO for their support and for helping our company and licensed growers around the world protect our Intellectual Property rights in South Korea. It is important that we always protect the rights of breeders and growers – as these efforts will assuredly spur the table grape sector into the future,” Avery continued.

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