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Pepsico sues Indian farmers for allegedly growing exclusive potato variety illegally

The US food and beverages giant PepsiCo has sued three farmers from Gujarat, complaining that they have been illegally growing and selling a variety of potato exclusively registered to Pepsico for the use of producing its Lays potato chips.

The Times of India reports that looking at the company’s registration of the potato variety in the country’s Plant Variety Registry, the commercial court here last week stayed the farmers – Chabilbhai Patel, Vinod Patel, Haribhai Patel – from growing and selling the potatoes till April 26. The court has also sought reply from the three over company’s claims of infringement on its rights.
On the company’s request, the commercial court judge Moolchand Tyagi appointed advocate Paras Sukhwani as court commissioner to conduct an inquiry into the dispute and prepare a report.
PepsiCo India Holdings Pvt Ltd has informed the court that it uses the registered variety of potatoes called FL 2027, which is a hybrid of FL 1867 and Wischip varieties, for manufacturing chips for its brand. The company is the registered breeder of FL 2027 under the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act, 2001.
In India, this variety was first put to commercial use in 2009 and is traded under the trademark FC5. It has granted licence to some farmers in Punjab to grow the variety on the buyback system. By growing these potatoes without licence, these farmers in Gujarat are violating its statutory rights.

The company further said that it came to know about the farmers growing this potato variety in January. It collected samples and sent for verification to the in-house laboratory as well as the ICAR and Central Potato Research Institute at Shimla for DNA analysis. The results showed that the respondents were growing the registered variety.

Read more in The Times of India