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An intellectual property lawsuit has been settled between the University of California and a strawberry-growing operation. UC Davis alleged in the lawsuit that the strawberry growers — California Berry Cultivars (CBC) — stole its proprietary strawberry plants in order to gain distinct advantages in California’s strawberry industry.

After a jury ruled that the CBC stole the strawberries, CBC agreed to return the strawberry plants to the school. As per a settlement agreement signed by CBC and UC Davis, the strawberry growers admitted that UC Davis is the true owner of the plants.

According to UC Davis, the founder of CBC — and the defendant in the lawsuit — developed over a dozen varieties of strawberries before he retired from UC Davis to start his own growing operation in 2013. Interestingly, almost all the strains of strawberries in California originated from the work of this man and his research partner at UC Davis.

Both researchers became embroiled in the intellectual property lawsuit with the school when the CBC founder told university admins that he wanted to start his own breeding company that would license the strawberries, create new strains and pay royalties to the university. Instead of agreeing to the proposal, the university sued the researcher and CBC for patent infringement and conversion.

Patent infringement and intellectual property lawsuits regarding agricultural plans are not uncommon. If you have been accused of patent infringement like this, or if someone has infringed on your agricultural or plant-related patents, you may want to discuss the facts surrounding your situation with a California intellectual property attorney.

Source: Courthouse News Service, “Settlement Reached in the Great Strawberry Fight,” Helen Christophi, Sept. 18, 2017