In the Auckland High Court, Zespri has launched a civil case for $70 million in damages against the person who allegedly sent plants of its SunGold kiwifruit variety to China. It is believed the area covered by the illegal plantings there is about 160 hectares. They were discovered in 2016 and are thought to have been growing since 2012.
Zespri told New Zealand kiwifruit growers last year they had discovered who the offender was. Zespri owns plant rights to the new SunGold for at least another 18 years, so only growers contracted to the co-operative can plant it.
According to stuff.co.nz¸ Zespri communications spokesman Yannis Naumann said the $70m damages were calculated based on the licence value of SunGold (or Gold3, the official title) licences in New Zealand and the loss of opportunity for Zespri to license Gold3 in China.