WASHINGTON, Sept. 27, 2017 - The University of California Regents and California Berry Cultivars (CBC) have settled a lawsuit over ownership of strawberry varieties. In May, a federal jury ruled in favor of the university, finding that two former UC Davis strawberry breeders and CBC willfully infringed UC strawberry patents and illegally converted plant material they developed at the university for the benefit of the company, which the breeders established along with several large commercial nurseries and growers. Douglas Shaw and Kirk Larson “established the firm while they were still employed by the university, and had used UC strawberry varieties in the new firm without the university's knowledge or permission,” UC Davis said after the verdict was returned.
“Both sides have agreed that strawberry plants bred with unreleased UC strawberry varieties will be returned to the UC Davis Public Strawberry Breeding Program where the plants will be evaluated and, if deemed suitable, released to the public,” the two sides said in a joint statement prepared as part of the settlement. “Both sides also agreed that UC owns varieties developed by the UC Davis Public Strawberry Breeding Program. Claims regarding past breeding and other conduct will be dismissed, and the settlement puts CBC in the same position as other California operations for any future breeding.”