Zespri has gone to court regarding kiwifruit orchards, illegally planted in China. It has told the High Court in Auckland the plants were illegally supplied to China by a grower in New Zealand. The company is seeking an award of damages by the court amounting to $70 million.
Zespri said the supply of the plants, which had been developed by the company itself and was a trademarked property, breached intellectual property rights. The supply of the plants to China further breached clauses of the Plant Variety Rights Act.
The company said initial investigations confirmed plantings in China of around 160 hectares, but there could be more. These plantings did not have a material impact on Zespri‘s current business in China but they represented an infringement of proprietary rights in China, which Zespri took very seriously.
“Our action in bringing this case reflects our strong desire to send a clear message that we will vigorously protect intellectual property for our growers in New Zealand and offshore,” a Zespri spokesperson told The Herdon Gazette.
“We are seeking $70 million in damages, which has been calculated based on the licence value of SunGold licences in New Zealand and the loss of opportunity for Zespri to licence them in China. This reflects the importance we place on defending intellectual property rights for our growers and the $20m annual investment our industry makes in innovation including exploring new cultivars.”