Syngenta Seeds has been awarded a $135,000 judgment against Delta Cotton Co-Operative, Inc, of Marmaduke, Ark., for the illegal sale of Syngentaâ€™s proprietary NK Brand COKER wheat seed.
In its lawsuit, Syngenta claimed infringement of its property rights under the Plant Variety Protection Act (PVPA), which states that protected seed may not be sold, offered for sale, resold or used to produce seed without permission of the developer. Syngenta also claimed infringement of its property rights under the Lanham Act, a federal act that protects the trademark rights of any goods or services. The jury awarded Syngenta $67,500 under the PVPA and an additional $67,500 for the Lanham Act claims.
"Those infringing on Syngentaâ€™s rights under these acts are harming both the company and those who fully respect PVP legislation," said Phil Farmer, Senior Business Manager for Syngenta Seeds. "Our certified seed grower customers, many of whom are farmers themselves, deserve protection from these illegal acts."
This judgment confirms the PVPA protection for seeds sold or offered for sale in any condition whereby they may grow if planted. Specifically, the jury found that it is illegal to sell Syngentaâ€™s federally-protected varieties, however marked, such as with "feed wheat," "variety not stated" and "mixed wheat." The jury found Delta Cotton liable for the unauthorized sale or offer for sale of approximately 2,600 units of NK Brand COKER wheat seed and awarded damages in excess of $50 for each 50-pound unit involved in the lawsuit.
This suit is one of 10 that Syngenta has filed since 2002 in Texas, Missouri, Mississippi and Arkansas to prevent further illegal sales of proprietary wheat seed. Seven of those cases were settled out of court in Syngentaâ€™s favor, and two cases have been tried successfully to a jury. One remains set for trial in fall 2005. Additionally, the companyâ€™s recently acquired Agri-Pro Wheat settled three similar suits filed in Oklahoma and Texas. All 13 lawsuits, as filed across the mid-South region, allege infringement of Syngenta Seedsâ€™ intellectual property rights under the PVPA and the unauthorized use of Syngentaâ€™s and AgriProâ€™s federally-protected trademarks.