DRISCOLL’S FILES COMPLAINT AGAINST CALIFORNIA BERRY CULTIVARS FOR PATENT INFRINGEMENT
WATSONVILLE, CALIF. (March 20, 2019) – The family-owned fresh berry leader, Driscoll’s, Inc., filed a complaint in federal court today against California Berry Cultivars (CBC), a strawberry breeding company, as well as the company’s co-founder, Douglas Shaw, alleging patent infringement and conversion of Driscoll’s proprietary strawberry varieties. Plant patents and plant breeder rights are protected under international and U.S. legal systems.
“Driscoll’s has made it our mission to produce fresh berries that consistently delight consumers through a hallmark of great flavor. We’ve been able to differentiate the flavor of our berries by investing in our dedicated, traditional breeding program, which provides exclusive varieties to hundreds of independent family farmers,” said Driscoll’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Miles Reiter. “We believe in a fair and competitive marketplace, and will take required actions to protect our research, patents and proprietary varieties.”
This suit follows earlier litigation between UC Davis and California Berry Cultivars (CBC) in May 2017 where a jury found CBC had committed willful patent infringement. As a result of the trial, certain CBC breeding records were made public, revealing that CBC had been breeding with several of Driscoll’s varieties.
The laws protecting new varieties of plants and plant breeder rights have introduced better tasting berries to consumers and led to the growth of the strawberry industry.
“We will stand up for our patented varieties and the farming families who rely on our breeding programs,” said Driscoll’s General Counsel Tom O’Brien. “Driscoll’s and all of the strawberry breeding programs in California have an interest in fostering fair competition that benefits consumers and growers. We cannot and will not abide the illegal and unauthorized use of our varieties and believe that all breeding programs should be protected from these kinds of actions.”
The complaint was filed in the Sacramento Division of the Eastern District of California. To review the full complaint, please view this filing dated March 20, 2019.
May 24, 2017: Verdict | The Regents of the University of California, Plaintiff, v. California Berry Cultivars, LLC, et al.