Strawberry Case Turns Bitter

Ask anyone and they will tell you that California strawberries are the best. As sweet as they are, strawberries find themselves the subject of yet another custody battle in California agriculture.

It all started with the desire on the behalf of some growers to create an even sweeter berry with a longer shelf life. So last month, the leading brand in supermarket strawberries, Driscoll’s, filed a federal lawsuit alleging that its proprietary berry varieties had been stolen by a company founded by the most celebrated breeder in the business and used in its own breeding program.

The lawsuit’s target is Douglas V. Shaw and his firm, California Berry Cultivars, or CBC. As it happens, Shaw was a key figure in a past lengthy battle re: strawberry breeding. Who knew berries could be so complex?

But there’s some green on the line to go with all that red. With a value of nearly $2.3 billion a year, strawberries are California’s sixth most valuable crop.

According to the LA Times, “The lawsuit could map out new legal ground in plant patenting, which used to be a remote corner of the intellectual property landscape compared with engineering and software patents. But commercial efforts to create distinguishable strains have stepped up over the years — fruits and vegetables are no longer merely generic products, but can be marketed as brands with distinctive qualities.”

Disputes are as plentiful as crops planted in the ground these days. And when those nasty things including landlord/tenant matters, contract issues, nuisance ADA claims and even collections turn your world sour, call in the ever-sweet business litigator, Dean Sperling, who will work to resolve YOUR matter with YOUR best interests in mind!

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