Belgian court issues injunction against pear grower for illegal propagation

A Belgian court has ordered a pear grower to uproot close to 4000 trees due to rights infringement.

In a decision dated June 19, 2019, the President of the Antwerp Business Court, in so-called ‘accelerated proceedings on the merits’, issued an injunction against a Belgian pear grower based on the finding that the latter had infringed the EU Plant Variety Right for the pear variety ‘Saels’ bearing the brand name Corina®. 

Saels is a mutant of the well-known Conférence pear and is distinct from Conférénce in the characteristic “time of maturity for consumption”. It ripens approximately two weeks earlier and can thus be commercialized two weeks sooner, which offers a commercial advantage to growers, distributors and consumers.

In this case, the grower, who was a licensed Saels grower, was found to have planted illegally propagated material from Saels on a number of plots other than the parcel on which he grew the licensed trees. 

After a lengthy technical discussion on variety identification, the Court declared that in the absence of any molecular markers for this trait, only a phenotypical analysis could do the job. The Court ordered the grower to uproot and destroy the approximately 3.800 infringing trees.

The grower was also ordered, under Belgian law, to pay the costs of the experts as well as legal costs. The decision has been appealed by the grower.

About the author

Philippe de Jong
Philippe is a partner based in Altius’ Brussels office. He specialises in IP law, with a particular focus on patents, plant variety rights and parallel import issues. He has extensive experience in regulatory matters concerning the life sciences and agrifood industries. Philippe has worked as a consultant for CPVO and is a member of Euroseeds (ESA), EPLAW, the Licensing Executives Society (LES), and CIOPORA.