U.S.: Scientists, UC Davis in legal fight over strawberry variety rights
Attorneys for two former University of California, Davis, scientists reportedly sparred with a federal judge on Monday over whether they or the nation’s top agricultural research school own the intellectual property rights to some popular strawberry cultivars.
Publication Courthouse News reported the debate came at a pretrial conference Monday, after U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria issued an order on the university’s motions to exclude evidence at trial that it destroyed 400 of the plants.
Research scientists Douglas Shaw and Kirk Larson claim the school violated their intellectual property rights to the plants when it discarded them after the professors retired, according to the story.
Shaw and Larson ran UC Davis’s strawberry breeding program for 22 years until they retired in 2014, and formed California Berry Cultivars (CBC) to sell their strawberries commercially. CBC is also a defendant in the case.
CBC, with Shaw and Larson at the helm, reportedly expected to continue developing the UC Davis varieties using the same germplasm that they had developed at the university.
The scientists sued the University of California in May 2016 to gain to access to them, Courthouse News reported.
They also developed more than a dozen strawberry varieties at UC Davis that are grown throughout the world. In 2004, they released the Albion variety, one of the most widely planted cultivars in California today.