Prairie Farm Sold PBR-Protected Varieties without Permission

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SeCan announced today the settlement of a Plant Breeders’ Rights (PBR) case between SeCan and Harvey Marcil of Pasqua Farms of Moose Jaw Saskatchewan. The settlement relates to unauthorized sales of PBR protected varieties CDC Bethune flax and AC Strongfield durum.

“This was a particularly concerning situation as the industry has invested considerable resources launching re-constituted seed supplies of several flax varieties. Having an individual profit while perpetuating an industry problem was taken very seriously,” says SeCan’s Todd Hyra, Business Manager, Western Canada.

While full details of the settlement are not available, the parties have agreed to a cash settlement of $150,000, and a declaration there will be no additional unauthorized sales. This is the largest individual settlement for SeCan to date (the largest prior settlement was $120,000 in 2013).

Infringers need to be aware – it is not just a matter of paying royalties owing when you get caught. Settlement normally includes royalties, investigative and legal costs, and other damages, which can result in very substantial payments.

Under both PBR ‘78 and PBR ’91 (effective February 2015), farm saved seed is allowed, but it is against the law to make unauthorized sales of a protected variety. The rules under PBR ’91 have changed. Hyra explains, “Previously only the seller was liable for an illegal sale. The big change under PBR ‘91 (all varieties granted PBR protection after February 27, 2015) is that everyone associated with an illegal sale is potentially liable – this includes the seller, processor, and the individual who buys the seed. Grain handlers can also be held responsible, as rights extend to the harvested material.”

“If we want access to the best genetics, plant breeders from Canada and around the world need to know the Canadian industry is playing by the rules,” states Hyra.