Counsel to SeCan on Canada’s Largest Plant Breeders’ Rights Settlement

SeCan, Canada’s largest supplier of certified seed, has reached an historic settlement of a plant breeders’ rights (PBR) dispute with an unnamed southern Alberta farming operation.

The joint settlement involved SeCan, Alliance Seed and one other unnamed seed distributor. The $737,597 cash settlement represents the largest settlement in a PBR infringement case in Canada’s history.

The settlement involved the farming operation illegally selling and advertising six different PBR protected wheat and barley varieties. Under PBR regulations, grain farmers are permitted to buy and grow PBR-protected seed varieties, but the harvested crops produced from that seed must be sold as commercial grain.

In a media release, Todd Hyra, SeCan’s business manager for Western Canada stated, “We are pleased to finally put this one to rest – it has been in the works for five years and covers sales spanning six seasons.”

The settlement is a significant win for plant breeders and emphasizes the importance of protecting plant breeders’ investments and intellectual property. It serves as a reminder to producers and processors that the industry is monitoring violations of plant breeders’ rights closely and to be cognizant of the rules.

Hyra went on to say that, “If we want access to the best genetics in the world – whether they are developed here in Canada or come from somewhere else in the world – we need to be sure that the developers are rewarded for their efforts.”

MLT Aikins is pleased to have acted as counsel to SeCan on the settlement. “I’ve been working MLT Aikins for a number of years now and I appreciate how professional and organized the firm is. Tristan and Calen’s wealth of knowledge of agriculture and the law surrounding seed intellectual property protection made this transaction as efficient and painless as possible. They have a deep understanding of the law and have what it takes to get these [plant breeders’] rights protected,” commented Todd Hyra.

MLT Aikins has a robust agriculture and food team and can assist you with the protection and enforcement of intellectual property relating to life sciences and biotechnology, including plant breeders’ rights.

About SeCan

SeCan is a consortium of more than 600 independent Canadian seed businesses engaged in seed production, processing and marketing. As “Canada’s Seed Partner,” SeCan actively seeks partnerships that promote success in Canadian agriculture. SeCan is the largest supplier of certified seed to Canadian farmers, with more than 375 varieties in 40 crop types developed by public and private sector breeding programs. Collectively, SeCan members are major supporters of seed variety research and development, returning more than $125 million in royalties and research funding since inception in 1976.