A recent ruling in Egyptian Courts sets major precedent, paving the road to dramatic change in the local industry’s IP atmosphere, as well as setting the stage for increased investments in the Egyptian agricultural sector.
As proprietary varieties increase their presence in the markets, they are becoming the most sought-after produce in many crops for both farmers and consumers. This change has consequently led, in the recent years, to a concerning global increase of infringement of Intellectual Property rights in the form of unauthorized and illegal planting, such is the case with proprietary table grape varieties.
To safeguard its Intellectual Property rights as well as the interests of its authorized licensees of the Early Sweet™ (GRAPAES) and ARRA™ varieties, Grapa Company is constantly focused on protection and enforcement, around the world, together with trusted partners and experts in the field. These efforts involve multifaceted presence and actions.
In Egypt, a key player in the global table grape industry, the prevalence of such infringement has provided an imperative incentive to bring about the desired change. The subsequent extensive measures and activities of Grapa together with the EPPA (Egyptian Plant Protection Associates) has led to Grapa winning its legal case against an illegal grower of Early Sweet in Egypt, imposing the uprooting of 11 acres of illegal Early Sweet plantation. Additionally, the verdict bans the grower from selling, propagating or grafting any grapes or vines of the variety Early Sweet in the future.
The Court ruled that all Early Sweet vines planted on the farm are to be uprooted and destroyed, due to the infringement of the law on the protection of Intellectual Property Rights, which criminalizes violations on protected plant material i.e. planting protected varieties without the consent of the owner of the variety, and stipulates that in the event of a recurrence of the incident, the penalty will be imprisonment for a period ranging from three months to a year in addition to a fine.
At the end of June, in implementation of the judgment, the 9000 vines of illegal Early Sweet vines were uprooted by the enforcement of the court in presence of the local authorities.
This is a pivotal step, as it shows that the legal system and authorities in Egypt are determined to protect Intellectual Property Rights, especially in the wake of the country joining the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV).
Grapa is now reinforced to continue pursuing illegal plantations, nurseries and exporters, as part of its systematic efforts to protect its varieties globally which ultimately benefits the entire supply chain.
This wind of change, and the developments it will ensue will naturally boost Egypt’s image in international markets, thus increasing Egypt's ability to access new protected varieties and achieve the highest return from agriculture, as well as reducing the cost of production and maximizing the return to farmers for these protected crops.
On behalf of the Breeding Industry Grapa would like to thank the Egyptian Minister of Agriculture H.E. El Sayed EL Qosair and his team for the enormous efforts they have done to create a healthy climate for breeders to invest in Egypt and introduce in new varieties, and for their efforts together with the Phytosanitary Authorities to regulate the export process of fresh grapes which made Egypt an important and respected player on the global market.