Australian-based company Mountain Blue has successfully defended its intellectual property by winning a legal battle against a grower in the Coffs Coast Region, accused of unauthorized exploitation of its blueberry genetics.
The Federal Court of Australia recently ordered that a competitor illegally infringed a variety of blueberry developed by Mountain Blue, which was protected by Australian intellectual property law.
The Court ruled that this grower engaged in unauthorized exploitation of the blueberry genetics. Mountain Blue Managing Director Andrew Bell said “They sought to obtain a competitive advantage by not paying royalties and circumventing marketing restrictions associated with the variety with the specific intention of profiting from Mountain Blue’s intellectual property.”
After a significant legal battle, the court orders were handed down and Mountain Blue was awarded damages and court costs under the provisions of the Plant Breeder’s Rights Act.
Mr. Bell welcomed the result, saying that his company invests heavily to ensure their growers can compete in this increasingly competitive landscape.
“Mountain Blue invests millions of dollars every year to develop new cultivars, which are then licensed around the world,” said Mr. Bell.
“It is imperative that Plant Breeder’s Rights are enforced for the future of Australian agriculture. Without enforcement, there would be a disincentive for companies like ours to invest in new cultivars that help the whole industry and ultimately provide better outcomes for consumers.”
“It is crucial that Australian fruit and vegetable products are at the upper echelon so that we can compete in an increasingly globalized fruit and vegetable market.”
Mr. Bell said: “I am also heartened by the amendments made to the Plant Breeder’s Rights Act earlier this year, which introduced additional damages as a remedy for Plant Breeder’s Rights infringement for the first time, and put companies like Mountain Blue in a stronger position to take meaningful action against those that choose to do the wrong thing and seek a free ride at the expense of Australian agricultural innovators.” Mr. Bell, however, warned: “The Australian Government must not rest and there is much more that can and needs to be done to improve intellectual property laws relating to agriculture and protect Australian agricultural innovations and investments for the benefit of all Australians.”