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May 22, 2020

No Rights In A Plant Variety Until Grant Of Registration

Author: Sri Lekha

In the matter of Sungro Seeds Ltd v. SK Tripathi & Ors., [CS (OS) No. 1163 of 2013], the Delhi High Court, vide its Order dated May 15, 2020, dismissed the Plaintiff’s suit and held that no cause of action would accrue on the basis of breeder’s rights until Plaintiff obtains a registration for its plant variety under Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act, 2001 (“PPVFR” Act).

The Plaintiff developed a hybrid variety of Cauliflower under the name ‘Katreena’. The Plaintiff came across the Defendant No. 3’s hybrid cauliflower seeds under the name ‘Riya’. The Plaintiff submitted that it conducted tests which disclosed that the seeds of the Defendant had 100% identical characteristic features as that of the Plaintiff’s hybrid variety. The Plaintiff argued that the Defendant had illegally acquired Plaintiff’s confidential information relating to breeding from its ex-employees (Defendant Nos. 1 and 2) and knowingly misappropriated its trade secret. Accordingly, the Plaintiff instituted the instant suit seeking permanent injunctions against the Defendants, restraining them from using or disclosing any of the confidential information related to Plaintiff’s breeding strategies.

The Defendant filed an application for rejection of the plaint on the ground that both the Plaintiff’s and Defendant’s applications for registration of their respective plant varieties are pending before the Registrar under the PPVFR Act and the issue of breeder’s rights is yet to be resolved. The Defendant argued that the instant suit could have been initiated by the Plaintiff only if its plant variety was registered and the breeder’s rights had been conferred upon it.

The Court perused the arguments made by both parties and held that “…the plaintiff, prior to obtaining registration under the PPVFR Act, cannot maintain a suit to restrain the defendants from infringing the rights which are yet to be conferred on the plaintiff on grant of registration…the plaintiff is not found to be having any rights, asserting which the suit was filed and the suit is dismissed”.

Disclaimer: Views, opinions, interpretations are solely those of the author, not of the firm (ALG India Law Offices LLP) nor reflective thereof. Author submissions are not checked for plagiarism or any other aspect before being posted.

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