Seed suppliers SeCan and FP Genetics say they’ve reached a settlement on unauthorized advertising and sales of protected durum varieties by Johnston’s Grain Brokerage, based in Welwyn, Saskatchewan.

The parties have agreed to an undisclosed cash settlement as compensation for royalties, legal, investigative costs, and a declaration there will be no additional unauthorized sales. Johnston’s has also committed to an awareness program for its employees.

The settlement stems from the sale of AC Strongfield and AC Transcend durum.

“We are pleased that Johnston’s were cooperative in bringing closure to this case and we are particularly happy about their ongoing commitment to educate their staff regarding the rules of Plant Breeders’ Rights,” said Todd Hyra SeCan Business Manager, Western Canada, in a news release. “This was a complex case that involved a broker and multiple sellers. We settled with Johnston’s and hope to have the others settled in the near future.”

Most new seed products carry some form of intellectual property protection, ranging from PBR to patents. Any variety that has received PBR since 2015 is protected by PBR ‘91 – this means that not only the seller needs to be aware of the rules but the buyer as well. Most grain companies require a declaration at the elevator that the grain being delivered was grown from seed acquired legally.

“We made a mistake and are ready to move on,” said Johnston’s Grain owner and president Alan Johnston, in the same news release. “We have implemented steps to ensure all staff and customers are aware of the PBR regulations. My advice to others is to familiarize yourself with Plant Breeders’ Rights and be sure that everyone in your organization is on side with the rules.”

Most settlements have been in the range of three times the normal royalty rate paid by a legitimate seller, plus compensation for legal fees and investigative costs, noted Lorne Hadley of the Canadian Plant Technology Agency. “It does not take long to add up.”

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