Impetus through AIB


Brussels, December 2011

In 2011, the fight against the illegal multiplication of protected vegetable crops received a substantial impetus. In its first year, the Anti Infringement Bureau (AIB) has constructively engaged in the protection of genetics and the prevention of infringements of the Intellectual Property Rights (IP) of seed companies. In several countries, significant steps have been taken to protect the interests of vegetable seed companies.

In close collaboration with its members, as well as with national and international trade associations and other stakeholders (such as inspection and quality assurance services), the new institute has energetically set to work: the AIB has worked hard to increase awareness of the risks of illegal multiplication within the vegetable industry. In addition, a website has been launched (www.AIB-seeds.com) that provides the necessary information in four languages to all those involved or interested. Furthermore, the AIB investigates reports of illegal multiplication and piracy. Affiliated members can rely on expert assistance in putting a stop to these practices and if necessary in taking legal action against the ‘pirates’.

The AIB conducts its own inquiries to uncover illegality and piracy as well. For example, recently several lettuce varieties that had been put on the market were tested in Italy. It was suspected that these lettuce varieties were copies of protected varieties under a false name. The test results confirmed this suspicion in a substantial number of cases, as a result of which the AIB is now preparing legal action against the distributors involved.

As of September 1st, the AIB Conditioning Audit System is active: a collaboration with the largest pelletising companies. The participating pelletising companies have committed to register the client’s name and the given variety name of all seed batches they receive. Also, a seed sample is taken. AIB regularly verifies these data. If there are any misgivings regarding the legal origin of the seed, a sample will be tested by a certified laboratory, such as NAKT.
At this moment, the four largest pelletising companies are affiliated with the AIB Conditioning Audit System (Germains, Incotec, Suet and Elsoms) in addition to no less than 14 vegetable seed companies. It is expected that other pelletising companies will also join the AIB Audit System. Geographically, the AIB Audit System presently covers the European Union and Turkey. Lettuce is the first crop that is contained in the Audit System. The system can be expanded to include other crops and other countries.

On the authority of its members, the AIB has launched a wide scale offensive. Through its website, the AIB offers anyone the opportunity to simply – by pressing just one button – and, if so desired, anonymously report supposed acts of piracy. In the coming year, the AIB will actively seek publicity for these developments in trade journals and on websites in various countries.
To its members, the AIB offers information and advice regarding the different aspects of IP protection, recognising and preventing illegal practices, and the steps to undertake in case of discovering illegality.
The target is to keep the sector healthy through collaboration, and to ensure compliance with Intellectual Property Rights (IP).
After all, the protection of such IP rights (particularly Plant Variety Rights, trademark rights and copyright) are of vital importance for a healthy and innovative seed sector and guarantee a wide choice in high-quality products for both the immediate clients (nurseries and plant raisers) and the consumer.