Last week, a large farming operation in Southern Alberta reached the largest cash settlement in a Plant Breeders' Rights case in Canadian history agreeing to pay over $737 thousand dollars.
The Director of Intellectual Property Protection for Seeds Canada, Lorne Hadley says they investigate a number of cases each year of people infringing on the rules under Plant Breeders Rights.
"Ninety per cent of it is myself or others from Seeds Canada having a conversation What are you selling? Do you know you shouldn't? If it's a variety that shouldn't be sold without the permission of the varieter. Then there's a group that think, well, you know, I think this variety is in short supply, so I should be selling it. And we use that system to determine what we do in terms of negotiating with infringers."
Hadley says they deal with one to four hundred cases each year noting that each case is handled and investigated separately.
"Is it a small farmer who just needs to know more? Is it somebody who set out to actually take the variety without paying a royalty? Or is it somebody that's in the business of, you know, essentially brown bagging seed. Keep in mind every time seed is brown bagged, there is no royalty going back to the breeder."
He notes anyone who uses a PBR-91 protected seed purchases it, processes it or sells PBR protected varieties inappropriately is liable.