Zespri will take a civil case in China against growers who have illegally planted the gold kiwifruit variety Sungold, reports local media Stuff.
It said there could be as many as 2,000 to 2,500 hectares of the variety planted in China.
In comparison, there are 6,500 hectares of Sungold in New Zealand, and 1,100 hectares licensed overseas.
The variety is considered premium and is sold at a higher price than most.
While Zespri chief grower and alliances officer Dave Courtney said that sales of the fruit have not yet impacted the co-op, it wants to protect its intellectual property. China buys more than NZ$500m of kiwifruit a year from Zespri, says Stuff.
"We're aware that the variety has been grown by smaller household growers but what we're noticing is there are a couple of bigger, more commercial players picking it up which has made us step in," Courtney was quoted saying.
Previously, Zespri launched a case in New Zealand against the person who allegedly sent Sungold plants to China.
Illegal planting in China has affected Zespri in the past as well. In the early 2000s, Chinese growers planted over 1,000 hectares of the gold variety Hort16a.
Courtney also told Stuff that it has had success pursuing trademark infringement as a criminal charge. The organization is working with a law firm in China.
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