PepsiCo Inc. has successfully appealed against a previous ruling that stripped it of its patent for a potato variety used in producing its Lay’s chips.
What Happened? Last year, the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights (PPVFR) Authority in India revoked the intellectual protection for PepsiCo’s FC5 potato variety, claiming that Indian regulations did not permit the patenting of seed varieties. PepsiCo then appealed the decision in the Delhi High Court, but Judge Navin Chawla dismissed it in July 2023.
Undeterred, PepsiCo appealed to the same court to reverse the decision. On January 9, Delhi High Court Judges Yashwant Varma and Dharmesh Sharma overturned the 2023 ruling, granting a victory to PepsiCo. The company then reaffirmed its commitment to continue working alongside farming communities for mutual benefit and overall progress.
For the past few decades, PepsiCo has been supplying the FC5 seed variety to a group of farmers who then sell their produce back to the company at a fixed price. This arrangement has been in place since PepsiCo established its first potato chip plant in India in 1989.
Back in 2019, PepsiCo dragged some Indian farmers to court for growing the FC5 potato variety, alleging patent infringement. However, the lawsuits were withdrawn within months.
Why It Matters? This court ruling is significant as it reinforces the rights of corporations to protect their patented plant varieties in India. It affirms PepsiCo’s right to the FC5 potato variety, which is essential for the production of its popular Lay’s chips.
This decision could also influence future rulings related to the patenting of seed varieties, thus impacting the relationship between corporations and the farming community. However, it is crucial to note that this decision could be appealed further, and the final outcome may still be uncertain.
The ruling also serves as a reminder of PepsiCo’s commitment to working with local farming communities in India, as the company has been doing since the establishment of its first potato chip plant in the country over three decades ago.
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