UC Davis Strawberry Lawuit Settled

Courthouse News reports a settlement was reached between the University of California (UC) Davis and California Berry Cultivars (CBC). As part of the settlement, CBC agreed to return plants the company bred from the university’s unpatented varieties.

CBC also agreed that UC Davis owns the unpatented strawberry varieties developed in the school’s breeding program where CBC founder Doug Shaw and research partner Kirk Larson worked. Both agreed to assign rights to the plants created at UC Davis to the school.

In May, a federal jury ruled in favor of the university in its lawsuit with Larson and Shaw.

Jurors found Shaw and Larson willfully infringed UC patents, breached duties of loyalty and fiduciary duty, and used plant material owned by the UC Davis Public Strawberry Breeding Program to develop berries for California Berry Cultivars (CBC), a corporate breeding firm they established along with several large commercial nurseries and growers.

Shaw and Larson, as part of the settlement, will receive royalties for their patents for plants created at UC Davis, minus a $2.5 million payment for violations. They must also give the school all plants bred in 2014 and all seeds in 2017, which used 2014 material. Some plants from 2015 will also be turned over, except anything bred with patented varieties from UC Davis. Shaw and Larson will also test the 2016 crosses to determine if any unpatented parents were used. If so, the results of those crosses would also be returned to the school.

Also as part of the settlement, the university will also test any CBC proposed varieties for UC Davis parentage prior to release.

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