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The dispute over the Nadorcott mandarin continues

The Nadorcott mandarin has become the center of a legal dispute in the citrus sector. This variety is the result of random cross-pollination and was discovered in Morocco by El Bachir Nadori in the 1980s. In 2006, it was registered to Nador Cott Protection, which the Moroccan royal family owns. Since it became popular among consumers, numerous farmers planted it without authorization in the 1990s, which triggered litigation over property rights.

Producers claimed that this citrus had always been cultivated in the region under the name of Afourer and therefore had no owner. The Protected Plant Varieties Club, which in Spain represents the interests of breeders, has stated that this variety is protected by copyright and has demanded the payment of royalties for the use of this protected variety, which has many farmers facing lawsuits. Most of these cases have led to convictions against farmers; in Valencia, a recent ruling has condemned a Murcian citrus farmer to pay compensation for the benefit obtained from the illegal exploitation of the variety between 2017 and 2022, a farmer who had already had to uproot more than 4,000 trees of this variety.

Plant varieties, like patents, offer an exclusive exploitation right to their discoverers, forcing those who wish to market them to pay a fee. However, the ease of breeding these varieties has fueled legal disputes. One of the first measures taken by breeding companies to initiate legal actions is resorting to detectives specialized in identifying unauthorized crops.

Avoiding paying royalties can have serious consequences for farmers, including a court order to destroy illegal plantations and financially compensating the rightful owner of the variety for the damage caused. In Spain, there have been more than 4,000 licenses for the exploitation of breeder's rights, which reflects the prevalence of the use of protected varieties in crops such as cereals and vegetables.

Protecting these varieties is crucial for breeders, especially when these varieties have desirable characteristics. Private entities are responsible for managing licenses, protecting breeders' rights, and carrying out legal actions against those violating these regulations.

The dispute over the Nadorcott mandarin continues, especially in Luxembourg, where the General Court of the European Union recently heard allegations related to its registration. Nador Cott Protection and Carpa Dorada defend the legality of the variety's registration. Eurosemillas argues that Nadorcott, also known as Afourer, already existed on the market, a similar argument to that of Valencian and Murcian farmers, which Spanish judges have so far rejected.


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