Italian Antitrust Authority dismisses case against SNFL Group

In a landmark judgement the Italian Antitrust Authorities (AGCM) dismissed a case against SNFL Group and other table grape breeders whereby the Puglia Association of Growers, formally complained that SNFL and the other breeders had effectively established a “formula club system” such that the breeders controlled all aspects of the supply and licensing of their proprietary table grape varieties from the provision of planting material, the granting of sub-licenses and the supply of fruit to the market through the breeders’ own distribution channels. Furthermore, the Puglia Growers Association also claimed that SNFL and the other breeders unilaterally imposed minimum prices for the sale of fruit and refused to license their varieties to growers who did not belong to associations that the breeders did not manage.

After a lengthy investigation the AGMC found that these claims by the Puglia Growers Association were completely baseless and unwarranted, and the case was dismissed in its entirety.

The Chairman of SNFL Group, Duncan Macintyre said: “We welcome this judgement in our favour but are perplexed as to why the Puglia Growers Association launched this complaint to the Italian Antitrust Authority, when it was abundantly clear that their case had no merit whatsoever. We can only conclude that their motives were wholly disingenuous. We have a healthy and vibrant business in southern Italy and enjoy a great relationship with our many licensed growers who continue to expand their plantings of SNFL table grape varieties.

"However, like many other table grape breeders, it is also clear that in the Puglia region we continue to see too many cases of infringements of our Plant Breeders Rights and instances of unauthorised propagation and production of our varieties. These illegal actions damage our bona fide licensed growers in the region. We will do all that we can to protect their businesses through increased surveillance to identify and trace illegal fruit, and when we do find unauthorised production we will take whatever legal action is necessary to prevent further infringements”.
Official judgment: 

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