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Sun World wins intellectual property court case

Proprietary fruit breeders scored a noteworthy victory when an Israeli court granted a temporary injunction against an Israeli grape grower infringing on Sun World International's intellectual property rights. The injunction prohibited the infringer from continuing to market fruit produced from the proprietary grapevines and led to a settlement whereby the infringer agreed to uproot his vineyard and cease growing the protected fruit variety.MIDNIGHT-BEAUTY

The Israeli court ruled in favor of Sun World, a leading fruit breeder and licensor of related intellectual property, on Sugrathirteen, a popular and proprietary black seedless grape owned by Sun World and marketed by the company and its licensees under the Midnight Beauty brand.

“We are pleased with the court’s unambiguous message that fruit breeders’ rights prevent a protected variety’s growth and proliferation without the lawful owner’s permission,” Sun World International Executive Vice President David Marguleas said, noting that Sun World owns a vast portfolio of intellectual property in more than 40 countries and remains committed to aggressively protecting its rights throughout the world.

Marguleas also serves as president of Sun World Innovations, the company’s technology and licensing division and the entity that manages the California company’s intellectual property portfolio.

“This landmark case reflects the importance of intellectual property in agriculture and supports a shift of attitude amongst producers towards respect for these rights,” he added.

The Israeli Central District Court ruling held that the interests of entities making large financial investments in the development of their varieties ought to be protected. The judge said, “I think that the lack of enforcement of the protection given to the variety’s registered owners and its rights to prevent its exploitation by others in the protection period — in cases where the cause of action is allegedly proven, as it is in our case — may diminish the existing incentive for developing new varieties and inflict notably significant damage to those developers of varieties that have acquired protection.”

One of the leading U.S. producers and marketers of table grapes, Sun World operates one of the world’s largest grape- and stone fruit-breeding programs. Since its inception in the early-1980s, the company’s Variety Development Center has released more than 100 varieties with improved flavor, size, color, shelf life and extended seasonality. In addition to production on its own California farms, Sun World licenses producers to grow its proprietary varieties in North America, Europe, South America, Australia, the Middle East and South Africa.

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