Grape breeder implores Chinese retailers to cease selling unauthorised versions of popular grape varieties

IFG has asked for cooperation from retailers as it tries to combat unauthorised versions of its proprietary grape varieties in China.

Sweet Sapphire grapes

Sweet Sapphire grapes

According to the company, rogue Chinese farmers have grown unauthorised Sweet Sapphire (Chinese variety IFG六 and Chinese trademark 甜蜜蓝宝石) and other IFG-branded grapes and are selling them into local markets.

Authorised IFG grape varieties are only available in China through import and IFG chief executive, Andy Higgins, has called on retailers in China to only sell IFG grape varieties from a trusted importer.

“IFG kindly asks retailers to ensure that they not source or sell any fruit of any IFG variety which has been grown domestically, or they risk infringing IFG intellectual property rights and possibly cheat Chinese consumers from the quality one expects of IFG produce,” Higgins said.

Higgins said that no IFG varieties are currently grown in China, but the company working hard to develop domestic production of its varieties.

“This is a long and challenging process; however, IFG and licensed growers will continue to provide premium and great-tasting fruits to Chinese consumers. Growing plants of any IFG proprietary grape variety without the permission of IFG or selling the fruit harvested from any unauthorised plants of an IFG grape variety infringes IFG’s intellectual property rights,” Higgins said.

“It also cheats consumers from the high-quality experience that IFG brings to all consumers.”

The company maintains a good working relationship with the Chinese government, and Higgins said he expects that partnership to continue as IFG targets violators of its patents.

“IFG would like to thank the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of the People’s Republic of China for their hard work and efforts in providing a great IP-protected environment for both domestic and foreign new varieties,” Higgins said.

“We would also like to thank them for their tremendous efforts in Plant Variety Rights applications’ review and processing, and for their efforts to provide a great IP-protected environment for both domestic and foreign new varieties.”

IFG has registered numerous Chinese trademarks for its varieties, including Sweet Sapphire and Sweet Globe. In China, IFG has also secured plant variety rights for 13 IFG varieties in May and August 2022 including the Sweet Sapphire.

The company said retailers could protect themselves by ensuring they can trust the source of their fruit and that they can identify suppliers. Retailers should also not procure or sell any IFG grape variety grown domestically until they confirm that IFG has licensed growers in China to produce and sell that IFG variety.

Once IFG has locally licensed growers, the company said it will have a Chinese website that can be referenced to verify if the growers are authorised to produce IFG varieties.