A strawberry patent infringement lawsuit against the former chief of a breeding institute hasn't borne fruit and is running out of steam.
The case stems from an underlying dispute between the University of California, Davis, and Douglas Shaw, in which a federal jury found Shaw stole plants to kickstart his strawberry startup. Shaw and another renowned UC Davis researcher started California Berry Cultivars and began producing varieties without the university's consent.
UC Davis responded with a conversion and patent infringement suit. The jury eventually decided that Shaw infringed on nine strawberry patents. Under a settlement, Shaw agreed to return certain plants and seeds and allow UC Davis to test future varieties.
Apart from all this, now Driscoll's says it was a victim of theft also, pointing to witness testimony and exhibits from the trial that it contends prove Shaw used at least four of its patented varieties.
Driscoll's sued Shaw and California Berry Cultivars in 2019. Its case withered in July 2021 after U.S. District Judge Troy Nunley picked apart the patent infringement lawsuit and called Driscoll's 'vague'.
After this, Driscoll's filed a second, amended complaint, which went nowhere as well.
Yesterday, in the case of Driscoll’s v. California Berry Cultivars, Federal Judge Todd Nunley dismissed a claim for interference with a contract and a derivative claim—two of the six claims that Driscoll’s had asserted—with leave to amend. Driscoll’s four claims for patent infringement and declaratory relief remain, and Judge Nunley explained that “the case will proceed on the remaining claims.” “We look forward to proving in court that CBC’s unauthorized use of Driscoll’s varieties in its breeding program infringed our patents,” said Tom O’Brien, Driscoll’s general counsel.