A former kiwifruit grower who smuggled cuttings of Zespri’s prized gold variety to China has been ordered to pay the kiwifruit exporter more than $12 million, after his appeal proved unsuccessful. Last year, Haoyu Gao was ordered by the High Court to pay Zespri almost $15 mln for taking the cuttings to China after signing a supposed licensing agreement with a grower there.
Zespri claimed Gao’s agreement to supply the cuttings was an infringement of its rights under the Plant Varieties Rights Act.
Gao appealed the High Court ruling and, in a judgment released on Tuesday, the Court of Appeal reduced the damages to be paid by Gao from $14.9 million to $12.1 million. The reduction in damages related to the inexact measurement of the Chinese orchards involved.
The appeal, in which Gao claimed Justice Sarah Katz had mistakenly ruled hearsay statements were admissible and that the gold varieties would not have reached the grower in China without Gao’s actions, was otherwise dismissed.
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