International Fruit Genetics (IFG) a California-based fruit breeding company has filed for patent / plant breeders' rights / plant variety rights and trademark protection for many of its proprietary varieties in various jurisdictions. The company is the largest private breeder of table grapes in the world and licenses proprietary breeds of fruit to growers worldwide. IFG greatly values the Chinese market and will continue its efforts to make its premium fruit varieties available to Chinese consumers.
In response to the current IP infringement activities in China involving the IFG-Six variety, IFG would like to make the following statements:
IFG is the legitimate breeder and proprietor of the IFG-Six variety (marketed under the registered trademarks "Sweet Sapphire®" and "甜蜜蓝宝石®"). Sweet Sapphire® grapes have a long cylindrical shape, most with a dimple on the tip. IFG submitted the application for plant variety rights protection for IFG-Six (Sweet Sapphire®) in China in 2018, and the variety has been preliminarily approved by the Office of Variety Protection of The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, which approval was published on January 1st, 2019. In August, 2020 The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs conducted an on-site inspection of the DUS testing site for the IFG-Six variety.
Once Plant Variety Rights protection is granted in China for IFG-Six, any propagation or sale of IFG-Six propagating material without IFG's authorization for commercial purposes will constitute an infringement 11-6of IFG’s Plant Variety Rights. Under the PRC Regulations on New Plant Variety Protection, IFG will also be entitled to claim damages for unauthorized activities occurred in the period from the publication date to the grant date once the Rights are granted.
IFG will not tolerate any infringement of its rights, and will consider taking any enforcement actions that may be necessary to protect its rights.
IFG has also secured registrations for the "Sweet Sapphire®" and "甜蜜蓝宝石®" trademarks in China, covering goods including fresh grapes, saplings, vines and plant seeds. Without the permission of IFG, it is prohibited from using trademarks identical or confusingly similar to IFG's registered trademarks on the same or similar goods for commercial purposes.
It has come to the attention of IFG that there have been certain commentaries on the quality and adaptability of the IFG-Six variety in China. IFG would like to emphasize that it has never authorized any party to import, grow or sell propagating material of any IFG proprietary variety in China. Any planting of any IFG proprietary variety or any discussion in relation to cultivation techniques in China are therefore not licensed by IFG and not supported by IFG's technical strength and expertise. The acts of growing, selling and promoting in China propagating material of any IFG proprietary variety – including IFG-Six - without IFG’s authorization would be a violation of the Seed Law of People's Republic of China and an infringement of IFG's IP or other legitimate interests. IFG has launched a series of evidence preservation and administrative actions against illegal plantations of IFG-Six as well as the unauthorized trading and promotion of IFG varieties, with the underlying objective of combating infringements and for the purpose of further legal actions.
IFG kindly appeals to nurseries and growers in the industry in China to avoid propagating or planting or handling any IFG proprietary variety in China – and, in particular now, IFG-Six - without the express authorization of IFG, so as to avoid liability for IP infringement or violation of other laws, or for any economic loss possibly incurred by IFG as a result. IFG is confident of securing positive outcomes through its various remedial actions. IFG looks forward to achieving a greater respect for its rights in China.