Agri Business

IPR case: Gujarat to back farmers in fight against PepsiCo

Our Bureau Ahmedabad | Updated on May 01, 2019 Published on April 28, 2019

Agriculture in India was originally outside the purview of intellectual property laws.

Deputy CM Nitin Patel says govt will seek to be a party in the case

Following strong protests from farmer groups and prominent citizens over PepsiCo India Holdings Pvt Ltd’s lawsuits against Gujarat potato growers, the State government has shown its intent to fight the multinational by becoming a party in the case, in solidarity with the farmers.

The Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel on Saturday hinted to make the State government a party in the case, wherein PepsiCo has slapped a ₹1-crore lawsuit each against four farmers from Sabarkantha district in North Gujarat. A formal announcement on the same is likely by Monday.

IPR infringement

The Indian arm of the US-headquartered multinational food giant has alleged infringement of its Intellectual Property Right (IPR) of a potato variety named FL 2027, also called FC5, which the farmers allegedly produced without the company’s approval.

PepsiCo claims its exclusive rights on the variety by virtue of a Plant Variety Certificate (PVC) under the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights (PPV&FR) Act, 2001. The variety is used for the company’s popular Lay’s chips.

State govt intervenes

Patel stated that the farmers’ groups had sought the State government’s intervention in the case to protect farmers’ rights. The government, according to him, will seek Court’s permission to become a party in the case, while it will also explore options to mediate to resolve the issue between PepsiCo and farmers.

On Friday, the food major’s Indian arm had offered an out-of-court settlement with conditions. The farmers will take a call on this after due consultations.

The Commercial Court at Ahmedabad City Civil Court will hear the case next on June 12.

The multinational also came under fire from political quarters, with Congress leader Ahmed Patel issuing a statement saying, “Pepsi’s decision to take Gujarat’s potato grower farmers to court is ill-advised and brazenly wrong. It is in violation of the farmers’ right under PPV&FR Act. The State government shouldn’t keep its eyes shut. Corporate interest cannot dictate what our farmers must or mustn’t cultivate (sic).”

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Published on April 28, 2019
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