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Italy: New seizures of unlicenced strawberries imported to the EU

Ekland Marketing Company’s international licensing team worked closely with EU customs officials during the 2012-2013 season to enforce EU plant breeder’s rights of the University of Florida for strawberries grown in Egypt.

“Over the course of the season, EU customs officials detained dozens of loads of unlicenced strawberries produced in Egypt,” said Johnny Loff, Vice-President of Ekland Marketing Company (“EMCO CAL”). Loff heads EMCO CAL’s Egyptian Licensing Program. “The good news is that there are many more licensed Egyptian exporters this season than last,” Loff added.

In fact, EMCO CAL’s 2012-2013 licensing program in Egypt was their best yet. “Egypt’s growers and exporters have overwhelmingly committed to University of Florida strawberry varieties as their most profitable option. The University of Florida varieties consistently give growers the best quality, the highest yields, and superior shipping,” explains Roy Ekland, the founder and owner of EMCO CAL. The company is the exclusive licensee for the University of Florida strawberry program in all countries outside of the United States and Canada.

“Festival, Sweet Charlie, Winter Dawn, Fortuna. I believe that these and the other University of Florida varieties can become the most popular strawberries in the world,” said Ekland. EMCO CAL is working hard to achieve that goal.
Over the past three years, EMCO CAL has engaged the Egyptian growers and exporters in an intensive dialogue regarding the plant variety rights for the University of Florida. Egyptian exporters and marketing companies have responded positively. Many exporters came forward in the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons to sign licensing agreements, according to Dr. Fahiem EL-BoraiKora, EMCO CAL’s representative in Egypt. EL-BoraiKora explains, “Egyptian fruit growers export 30 thousand tons of fresh strawberries each season. University of Florida strawberry varieties now have over 90 percent of the market share for Egyptian strawberry exports.”

“Our staff in Egypt works directly with exporters and their growers. Licensed Egyptian exporters get the benefit of the University of Florida strawberry varieties without the risk of their loads being detained by customs,” said Loff. “Because fresh strawberries are highly perishable, custom’s interdiction creates a huge problem for an unlicensed exporter.” said Loff.

Ekland Marketing is successfully applying this multi-national approach to licensing and enforcement to other countries as well. Erika Montañez, Ekland Marketing’s licensing executive for Mexico, confirmed that in mainland Mexico, like in Egypt, the University of Florida strawberry variety “Festival” dominates the strawberry production of independent growers. Montañez explains, “Last season, Mexico was a problem country. Now it’s totally different. Our staff in Mexico inspected many growers’ fields and has issued a number of ‘Festival’ export licenses. Growers and marketing companies are actively seeking licensing agreements.”

To date, EMCO CAL has not initiated any customs or legal enforcement in the U.S. or other foreign markets for Mexican strawberries. Montañez explains, “Mexican exporters and growers are paying close attention to our EU-Egypt licensing program. The ‘Festival’ variety works for them and they do not want any problems like in Egypt.”

Ekland Marketing Company’s international licensing team includes The White List Team™, a working group of international lawyers focused on plant breeder’s rights enforcement in the EU and around the world. The White List Team™ concept was invented by U.S. attorney Patrick Ballew and Chilean attorney Gabriela Paiva. Italian attorney Roberto Manno manages The White List Team™ in the European Union.

For more information:
Avv. Roberto Manno
Barletta (BT) - Italy
Phone: +39 (0)883 532360
Mobile: +39 339 8047754

Dr. Agr. Cataldo Lobascio
Corato (BA) - Italy
Mobile: +39 349 0626994

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