Vegetable breeding company Rijk Zwaan and an Italian seed company have settled in respect of a long-running litigation before the Court of Modena, Italy. This Italian company had been accused of reproducing and marketing seeds of Rijk Zwaan lettuce varieties, which are protected by plant breeders’ rights. The two seed companies reached an agreement on all civil aspects in respect of the case.
Vegetable breeding company Rijk Zwaan invests approximately 30% of its turnover back into research and development to develop improved vegetable varieties. It is important for the sustainability of the vegetable sector that breeding companies are rewarded for their investments. This encourages innovative efforts to bring new vegetable varieties to the market for the benefit of growers, retailers, and consumers.
The system of plant breeders’ rights is based on the 1991 Act of the UPOV Convention. It provides effective protection of plant varieties of all genera and species in order that seed companies can obtain an appropriate return on investment. At the same time, it also guarantees a continuous flow of improved plant varieties as plant breeders’ rights – through the so-called breeders’ exemption – give other breeders the possibility to use a protected variety for the development of new, distinguishable varieties and to commercialize those varieties. Furthermore, the observance of plant breeders’ rights ensures a level playing field for plant raisers and growers by preventing unfair competition between them.