Korean Intellectual Property High Court rules Sweet Sapphire is a trademark not generic variety
Leading fruit breeder Bloom Fresh – created by the merger of IFG and SNFL – has announced a Korean Intellectual Property High Court has ruled in its favour in a trademark case relating to Sweet Sapphire and Black Sapphire.
The Court ruled Bloom Fresh’s grape variety brands Sweet Sapphire and Black Sapphire are valid trademarks of the company and cannot be advertised as generic grape varietal names in retail locations.
Sweet Sapphire and Black Sapphire (trademarks of the patented variety named IFG Six) have been popular offerings in Korea for nearly two decades. More recently the grapes began entering the Korean market as generic grapes, and not as the branded varietal.
Bloom Fresh has been working on securing legal support to protect its brand varieties in Korea since 2019. Bloom Fresh demonstrated to the Intellectual Property High Court through evidence of registrations and plant breeders’ rights that the patented variety named IFG Six and the trademark Sweet Sapphire were in wide use despite the intellectual property is owned by Bloom Fresh, and its use belongs exclusively to its licensed growers and licensed marketers.
Bloom Fresh also demonstrated that the IFG Six grape variety has been imported into Korea since 2018 and Sweet Sapphire has been indicated as a trademark on the packaging during that time, as well as declared to the Korea Seed and Variety Service as a trade name for the IFG Six variety.
After reviewing the evidence, the Intellectual Property High Court ultimately reached a judgment in favour of Bloom Fresh.
“This is a huge win for Bloom Fresh and the entire produce industry,” said Kenneth Avery, chief executive of Bloom Fresh.
“There is high demand for the distinctive and delicious premium table grape varieties our company develops. Because Bloom Fresh did not have plant variety rights in Korea giving direct protection over these grape varieties, this case was imperative to providing us with means to effectively protect our intellectual property and trademark rights in Korea.”
Avery said it is important to protect the rights of breeders and growers – as these efforts will assuredly spur the table grape sector into the future.
“Bloom Fresh’s customers look for our branded table grapes whenever they shop for produce since they know that our trademark ensures quality. Utilising a generic name or term dilutes our brand, putting customers at risk for purchasing grapes that don’t hold our high-quality standards,” said Avery.
“We would like to thank the Intellectual Property High Court and KIPO for their support and for helping our company and licensed growers around the world protect our intellectual property rights in Korea.”