Leading blueberry breeder Mountain Blue has won a legal battle relating to its intellectual property rights.
The Federal Court of Australia recently ruled that a competitor engaged in the unauthorised exploitation of Mountain Blue’s proprietary genetics.
The infringement involved a blueberry variety developed by Mountain Blue, which was protected under Australian intellectual property law.
“They sought to obtain a competitive advantage by not paying royalties and circumventing marketing restrictions associated with the variety, with the specific intention of profiting from Mountain Blue’s intellectual property,” said Mountain Blue managing director, Andrew Bell.
Mountain Blue was awarded damages and court costs under the provisions of the Plant Breeder’s Rights Act.
Bell welcomed the result, saying his company heavily finances programmes to ensure its growers can operate in a competitive landscape.
“Mountain Blue invests millions of dollars every year to develop new cultivars, which are then licensed around the world,” he explained.
“It is imperative that Plant Breeder’s Rights are enforced for the future of Australian agriculture. Without enforcement, there would be a disincentive for companies like ours to invest in new cultivars that help the whole industry and ultimately provide better outcomes for consumers.”
Bell said he was “heartened” by amendments made to the Plant Breeder’s Rights Act earlier this year. These amendments include the introduction of additional damages as a remedy for first-time breaches of Plant Breeder’s Rights.
“[It puts] companies like Mountain Blue in a stronger position to take meaningful action against those that choose to do the wrong thing and seek a free ride at the expense of Australian agricultural innovators,” Bell added.
“The Australian Government must not rest and there is much more that can and needs to be done to improve intellectual property laws relating to agriculture and protect Australian agricultural innovations and investments for the benefit of all Australians.”