ANFIC - our role is to protect IP rights

Dr Gavin Porter, ANFIC CEO

As the CEO of ANFIC, let me assure you that we are united and committed in our role to protect all fruit varieties and rootstocks we manage across Australia. We are also committed to ensuring fairness, not only to our member nurseries, but to the Australian fruit industry as a whole.

In line with our obligations, we have had to recently enforce our IP rights on various nurseries and growers concerning the unauthorised propagation, sale and supply of Krymsk 5 (VSL-2 cv.) Plant Breeders Rights (PBR) protected cherry rootstocks in Victoria and Tasmania.  Some of these protected rootstocks had also been field grafted to PBR protected and ANFIC managed cherry varieties.

As an industry leader, ANFIC has become the first Australian Intellectual Property & Commercialisation company to partner with technology company Oritain. We have heavily invested in the use of Oritain’s origin fingerprinting technology as part of this investigation into the unauthorised propagation, supply and planting of these PBR protected rootstocks. Oritain’s scientific verification proved invaluable in tracing plant material back to its source and enforcing any wrongdoing.

With a commitment to transparency, Oritain use forensic science to unlock the natural code in fruit and plant material, scientifically verifying origin. Oritain Australia Managing Director, Sandon Adams, explains how: “If you want certainty of where a product has come from, you need to test the ‘product’ itself. Luckily, mother nature embeds all things with a unique code based on where in the world they were produced. This natural code is created from the exact geochemistry of the product’s environment. Some environments are nutrient rich, some are poor, some are high in elements, some are low. These differences are what we measure, using the results to create an origin fingerprint for a product.  Origin fingerprints for various production areas have been mapped, which we then use to scientifically verify where a product has originated,” he said. 

We are pleased that settlement ensured before proceedings were issued and the rightful owners were compensated for the wrongdoing.

It is in everyone’s interest to protect proprietary fruit varieties and rootstocks to ensure that we keep the ‘new variety and rootstock pipeline’ open to all Australian growers. To this end we have made it mandatory for parties who deal with these protected varieties to enter into non-propagation agreements. The purpose of these agreements is to ensure accountability.

Consumers want new products that are better to eat or have other qualities that may appeal to them. Fruit breeders around the world work for years to develop such varieties in addition to disease and environment tolerant rootstocks to assist growers meet ever-changing orchard conditions. Such varieties and rootstocks are imported into Australia by Intellectual Property Managers who want to produce this ‘next generation’ fruit enabling Australian growers to compete in a global marketplace.

 It is the higher quality, type and appeal of new varieties, that separates proprietary varieties from commodity varieties. Growers are central to this process. They take most of the commercial risk when they invest in a new proprietary variety or rootstock to remain competitive. It is therefore imperative that the growers in the industry play fair and remain honest. It is unfair that a small number of individuals ‘free ride’ on legitimate growers by illegally propagating and planting trees.

ANFIC is committed to enforcing our agreements to provide fairness across the industry and will continue to work with growers, packers and marketers to ensure they follow the right protocol and process to protect IP rights associated with proprietary varieties and rootstocks. 

As part of this process further orchard audits will take place to ensure compliance across the board.

We now urge anyone with information on the unauthorised propagation, supply and planting of ANFIC managed fruit varieties and rootstocks to contact ANFIC (anonymously if preferred) with any information to help maintain the integrity of the proprietary varieties and rootstocks. 

Dr Gavin Porter, ANFIC CEO. Phone: 07-3419 9905 Mobile: 0419 639 509

Source: ANFIC

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