The endless fight against illegal growing of proprietary varieties

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Grapa’s vast experience enforcing the rights of their protected varieties has led to several seizures of suspicious grape shipments from oversees. In July 2020, a shipment of 11 tons of illegally grown grapes arriving from Egypt was seized at the port of Ravenna, Italy. The variety in subject is the well-known white seedless grape variety Early Sweet™, owned by Grapa Company, a family-owned business leader in the field of table grape breeding and licensing. The Early Sweet grapes arriving at the Ravenna Port from Egypt and destined to a company in Veneto was promptly identified as suspicious.

It is common practice for illegal producers to use misleadingly names of free varieties in order for the shipment to gain access into the European market. This is especially the case with varieties like Early Sweet, currently the earliest white commercial grape variety to ripen in today’s market.

After receiving intel about the abovementioned shipment, Grapa Company requested the detention of the same shipment in order to carry out a thorough inspection. The illegal activity was confirmed by the technical report carried out with the collaborative efforts and support of Grapa’s Italian law firm and representatives in Italy.

The Italian officials in action, inspecting the suspected shipment of Early Sweet variety

During the investigation, a DNA analysis was performed with several samples taken from the shipment. The DNA laboratory confirmed that the samples were indeed of the Early Sweet grape variety and the cargo was ultimately destroyed.

Unauthorized and illegal planting of proprietary grapevines and the infringing of Intellectual Property rights has shown a concerning increase in the latest years. In order to protect their Intellectual Property rights as well as the interests of its authorized licensees, Grapa Company is constantly involved in monitoring activities.

This is not the first time that Grapa, with the collaboration of the European Customs, has confiscated and destroyed illegal shipments of table grapes. Grapa is constantly engaging in enforcement in an effort to halt illegal use of proprietary varieties.

“For years, Grapa had been the sole table grape breeding company operating in Egypt, initially introducing Early Sweet™ followed by the ARRA™ Varieties. Only recently, after Egypt joined the UPOV convention, new establishments of enforcement activities were founded” said Rafi Karniel, CEO of Grapa.

Karniel adds: “These developments laid the foundation and encouraged some relevant stakeholders to become proactive in monitoring and overseeing the protection of proprietary table grape varieties in Egypt.”

Grapa Company is satisfied with the positive outcome of this case and values the cooperation and support provided by the authorities in Italy. Taking action in protecting Grapa’s Intellectual Property rights is a necessary step to protect the company as well as its licensed producers.

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