Negotiating licence agreements and collecting royalties is all a matter of trust. Most of the time things go well, but it can have its issues. Read more about our approach in these practical examples describing RAI's action to protect breeders rights and interests.
Once again RAI has detected an illegal propagator in Italy. It concerns illegal propagation of a number of Dekker Breeding B.V. Chrysanthemum varieties. The Court has convicted the illegal propagator to immediately stop the cultivation and sale of the concerned Chrysanthemum varieties and fined € 30.000 + 2% interest. In addition the grower has to pay at its own expense, the judgement, the process costs and the publication in the professional journals.
A grower in Germany was checked by RAI on behalf of one of its breeders. During the visit it was revealed that the grower was illegally reproducing the cuttings supplied. He quickly admitted to the unlawful activity, however refused to sign a declaration. Upon consultation with the breeder, RAI launched a sequestration claim. After payment of double royalties and the full legal costs involved, the sequestration process was abandoned.
New agreements after bankruptcy
After the bankruptcy of a licensee in Germany, a new party took control of the business. The new owner presumed it can simply take possession of the planted bulbs. The licence agreement stipulates that in the event of bankruptcy ownership of the bulbs cedes to the breeder. RAI filed a claim with the new owner, however the requisition of the bulbs would only take place after agreement on the value of the bulbs concerned. RAI held negotiations before a takeover price was agreed. The new owner was given the right to dispose of the bulbs and a licence agreement was agreed for the continuation of the cut flower production.
Recurring illegitimate Hydrangea
During a regular inspection visit in 2011 RAI uncovered an illegitimate batch of Hydrangeas originating from the Hydrangea Breeders’ Association (HBA). New agreements were made with the infringer; however this was not the end of the story. In 2012 RAI once again flagged up that the same grower was in possession of illegitimate stock. At the same time however, the grower filed for bankruptcy and the entire stock was auctioned off online. RAI adopted a leading role and immediately sprang into action. Thanks to RAI’s efforts, HBA received as compensation its due royalties plus an additional payment to cover all costs. HBA also received full details of all buyers who purchased the batches.
Bedding plants grower raided
RAI was refused access on a inspection visit to a grower of bedding and pot plants. RAI was appointed by Selecta Klemm to act immediately and an official raid was organised, together with a bailiff. Around 20,000 illegal cuttings were found on the premises. The grower signed a forbearance declaration and was fined €15,000.
Agreement on Rozanne geranium variety
Blooms of Bressingham has the exclusive worldwide licensing rights for the Rozanne geranium variety. When the Jolly Bee variety came onto the market, RAI representing Blooms of Bressingham took action. Thorough research failed to detect any difference between Rozanne and Jolly Bee. The rights of ownership for Jolly Bee were transferred to Blooms of Bressingham and Jolly Bee was removed from the market. Blooms of Bressingham was reimbursed for the royalties earned by the Jolly Bee variety over the previous years, as well as the costs incurred for the research.
Customs officers in action against illegal carnations
Customs officers intercepted six flower shipments of carnations from Colombia at Schiphol airport. The action took place at the request of carnation breeder HilverdaKooij. The seized shipments included the popular red NELSON variety, which is protected under European breeders’ rights. The carnations were being traded without permission and were immediately seized.
Success for Osteospermum breeders
Four growers in the Netherlands were growing Osteospermum without a licence. The three breeders involved (Selecta, Sakata and Sunny) called in RAI to investigate and to coordinate any follow up action. After a protracted process, the companies using the unlawful plant material were ordered to cease their illegitimate cultivation and to pay both the legal costs and for the damage incurred. Unusual with this case was that three breeders acted jointly in their battle against illegality.
Illegal growing of chrysanthemums
A court in Napels, Italy, granted RAI permission to mount multiple raids on a company growing chrysanthemums illegally. Varieties were found which belong to the Dutch firm Deliflor Chrysanten, for which no licence agreement existed. The grower and the company's owner were both fined for unlawful cultivation. However, the parties concerned refused to comply with what was agreed, prompting RAI to appeal and seeking damages in excess of €150,000.
Illegal production of chrysanthemums in Italy
RAI seized 250,000 chrysanthemum plants from an Italian grower cultivating varieties owned by Dekker Breeding. The grower concerned was unable to produce any invoices or paperwork, it was therefore clear that the plant material had been obtained illegally. This case is still pending with the courts.
New names for existing varieties
RAI discovered three German growers had rebranded varieties protected under breeders’ rights. No royalties had been paid for these varieties. Research revealed this involved varieties owned by Gediflora and that the plants were certainly not new varieties. The growers involved were fined €20,000 for their unlawful activities and for neglecting to pay royalties.
Licence agreement ended after misuse
During an inspection visit, RAI came across a German grower who refused to pay royalties on his Kalanchoes and who claimed that these were his own variety. DNA and morphological testing however revealed that this concerned a variety owned by Knud Jepsen. RAI ended the licence agreement with immediate effect
and prohibited the grower from cultivating any more of Jepsen’s varieties.
Illegal parent plants in Italy
With permission from an Italian court, RAI inspected an Italian nursery and found 6500 illegal parent plants belonging to Dekker Breeding. The judge hit the grower hard with the following; the legal process costs, the lawyer’s fees, the backdated royalties due, a fine and the publication costs. The grower was also prohibited from any future cultivation of Dekker Breeding varieties.