California-based variety development and licensing company Sun World International LLC has reached settlement of a dispute with a prominent Australian table grape producer (and associated entities) within the Sunraysia region. This follows breaches of Sun World’s intellectual property and contractual rights discovered during an audit of the grower’s property, which uncovered plantings of Sun World’s proprietary varieties beyond those allowed under its licence with the grower.
The settlement follows admissions by the grower of having propagated Sun World’s proprietary varieties without authorization and in breach of its growing licence with Sun World as well as infringing Sun World’s registered plant breeders' rights.
The parties have agreed to settlement terms that include removal of unauthorized vines and payments to Sun World totalling in excess of $220,000. In addition to these payments, the grower and associated entities, have committed to further undertakings acknowledging Sun World’s interests.
“Whilst pleased with our ability to draw this matter to a successful close without court action, it is unsatisfactory to have a grower acting outside of our licence terms and acting in breach of our plant breeders rights," said Sun World’s Australia Licensing Manager Adam Knoll. "Our action should also demonstrate to the industry that Sun World is avidly both monitoring the market and enforcing its rights.”
“To have to take any enforcement action is disappointing," said Garth Swinburn, vice president licencing. "However, such steps are necessary to protect not only our own business but also to protect other stakeholders’ investments both within Australia, as in this instance, and globally.”