Leading table grape breeder hails successful outcome of plant variety infringement case in Yunnan involving its IFG Six cultivar

Global table grape breeder International Fruit Genetics (IFG) has announced that a plant variety infringement case in Yunnan, China, has concluded in its favour.

The infringement involved IFG’s proprietary grape variety IFG Six (Chinese variety name (IFG六), which is sold under the trademark Sweet Sapphire (Chinese trademark 甜蜜蓝宝石), according to a media release from the US-headquartered company. 

IFG, which boasts 48 patented table grape varieties and ten patented sweet cherry varieties, has obtained plant variety rights protection for 13 of its grape varieties in China. These include but are not limited to Sweet Sapphire, Cotton Candy and Sweet Globe.

The IFG Six variety is marketed under the Sweet Sapphire brand

The IFG Six variety is marketed under the Sweet Sapphire brand

Starting in 2020, IFG launched a series of evidence preservation and administrative complaints against illegal sales of propagation and harvested material of IFG varieties.

In Yunnan Province, IFG filed a complaint against an infringer which illegally produced and sold propagation and harvested material for IFG Six (sold under the trademark 甜蜜蓝宝石). The local Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA) acknowledged the infringement and imposed significant administrative fines against the infringer.

Andy Higgins, CEO of IFG, hailed the victory as a landmark case that highlighted significant advances in plant variety rights protection in China.

“This is a huge win for IFG and the entire agriculture industry. The goal with these types of legal action is never to be punitive, but to create an environment where other plant variety rights holders feel comfortable and protected. We aim to bring forward the best varieties, technical and market support to the entire industry,” said Higgins.

“We would thank the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs for their support in protecting intellectual property rights in China. We appreciate the position that they are in and their relationship with local growers.

“Their dedication to helping achieve success is commendable. It is vital to what we do as breeders that we pursue all IP infringements to protect not only our work, but also the investments and commitments our licensees have made to IFG genetics.”

IFG said it would continue to seek cooperation with authorities in China to combat infringement activities and safeguard its commercial interests and those of its licensees.