Single-desk kiwifruit marketer Zespri suspects a small portion of its proprietary plant material was transferred and planted in China several years ago. The plant material in question is reported to be Gold3 (marketed as SunGold) and Gold9.
The NZ Herald reports New Zealand police are investigating claims the activity is linked to the sale of a kiwifruit licence to a third party in the People’s Republic. If proven, it would constitute a breach of the terms limiting license transfers within a country.
"The purported sale of a licence from one jurisdiction to another by a third party is a breach of Zespri's licences and plant variety rights, and potentially could give rise to allegations of fraud or misleading conduct," Zespri said in a statement.
Zespri does not expect the case to have any impact on the current season, or the global outlook for the varieties in question.
“Zespri's plant variety rights are important intellectual property, developed through extensive investment over many years," Zespri chief operating officer Simon Limmer told the NZ Herald. "Although the plantings may be relatively small scale in this specific case, we have zero tolerance for any breaches that we identify, wherever they happen."