Netherlands seed company Rijk Zwaan announced this week that a court in Milan, Italy has ordered the Italian company Agriseeds to pay Rijk Zwaan €205,701 in damages for unlawfully reproducing lettuce plants of a variety over which the Dutch company holds plant breeders’ rights. See News Release, Rijk Zwaan wins landmark case against illegal reproduction (Dec. 5, 2012). Rijk Zwaan states that in 2005, it learned that Agriseeds was selling Criolla, a lettuce variety with an appearance similar to the Dutch company’s protected Ballerina RZ variety. In 2006, after DNA tests suggested that the two varieties were essentially the same, Rijk Zwaan commenced infringement proceedings in the Milan court.
In January 2011, the Italian court determined that Agriseeds was liable for infringement and that Rijk Zwaan was entitled to damages in an amount to be determined. The court later found that Agriseeds had earned €205,701 from its infringing activities and ordered the Italian company to pay that amount to Rijk Zwaan, together with interest, court costs, and the costs of court experts.