IFG varieties SWEET SAPPHIRE™ (IFG variety name “IFG Six”; Chinese Variety “IFG六” and Chinese Trademark “甜蜜蓝宝石™) and SWEET GLOBE™ (IFG variety name “IFG Ten”) are very popular throughout the world and, especially, in China. In several instances, rogue Chinese farmers have grown unauthorized SWEET SAPPHIRE and other IFG-branded grapes and are selling them into local markets.
Authorized IFG grape varieties are only available in China through import. Consequently, IFG CEO Andy Higgins is imploring retailers in China to only sell IFG grape varieties from a trusted importer as no IFG table grape varieties are currently grown domestically.
“IFG kindly asks retailers to ensure that they not source or sell any fruit of any IFG variety which has been grown domestically, or they risk infringing IFG intellectual property rights and possibly cheat Chinese consumers from the quality one expects of IFG produce,” Higgins said.
He added that IFG is working hard to bring its varieties to be grown domestically in China. “This is a long and challenging process. However, IFG and licensed growers will continue to provide premium, great-tasting fruits to Chinese consumers. Growing plants of any IFG proprietary grape variety without the permission of IFG or selling the fruit harvested from any unauthorized plants of an IFG grape variety infringes IFG’s intellectual property rights,” Higgins said.
The company maintains a good working relationship with the Chinese government and Higgins expects that partnership to continue as IFG targets violators of its patents.
“IFG thanks the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) for their hard work in providing a great IP-protected environment for both domestic and foreign new varieties,” Higgins said. “We also thank them for their tremendous efforts in Plant Variety Rights (PVR) applications’ review and processing, and for their efforts to provide a great IP-protected environment for both domestic and foreign new varieties.”
IFG has registered numerous Chinese trademarks for its varieties, including for SWEET SAPPHIRE and SWEET GLOBE. In China, IFG has also secured plant variety rights for 13 IFG varieties in May and August 2022 including the SWEET SAPPHIRE.
How can retailers protect themselves?
- Ensure you trust the source of your fruit and that you can identify anyone who supplies your fruit. This means keeping track of all invoices.
- If you are caught selling infringing IFG fruit varieties, you can limit or avoid legal penalties by identifying your supplier.
- Do not procure/sell any IFG grape variety grown domestically until you have confirmed that IFG has licensed growers in China to produce and sell that IFG variety. Once IFG has locally licensed growers, it will have a Chinese website that can be referenced to verify if the growers are authorized to produce IFG varieties.