Please wait while the page is loading...


ENZAFruit wins infringement case against local grower in China

06 February 2024

ENZAFruit wins infringement case against local grower in China

ENZAFruit, a New Zealand-based fruits and vegetables grower, recently won a landmark Plant Variety Rights (PVR) infringement civil case in China. For significant damages, the Lanzhou Intermediate Court of Gansu Province awarded ENZAFruit its full claim, believed to be the largest award in China for a civil claim. ENZAFruit was represented by the law firm Lusheng, according to a press release from Rouse, their strategic partner.

Known as Scilate and branded as Envy, the plant variety at the heart of the case is one of New Zealand’s leading apple varieties. It is legitimately grown in China by ENZAFruit’s local partner, Joy Wing Mau.

“With rising demand for quality fruit and vegetables, especially within China and across the Asia-Pacific region, protecting the IP of agriculture businesses responsible for importing or exporting valuable patented food produce is increasingly important,” said Jerry Zhao, a senior associate at Lusheng and one of the lead lawyers representing ENZAFruit.

Success follows changes in the law

The successful PVR infringement case was made possible by revisions to China’s Seed Law. Implemented in March 2022, the regulations were extended to cover both the fruit and the propagation material of any protected variety, protecting harvested fruit for the first time.

“The plant breeding process can be extremely complex, requiring a significant amount of time, financial investment and human resources to create any new plant, fruit or vegetable variety. The newly implemented Seed Law allows us to protect client’s PVR rights more comprehensively, and importantly, application of punitive compensation, in addition to statutory damages, also showed the Chinese court’s determination to discourage PVR infringement with high-level PVR protection,” said Zhao.

ENZAFruit’s Morgan Rogers said its Scilate apples and Envy brand are renowned globally, with consumers and customers in over 60 countries seeking them out. 

“Significant research, development, marketing and sales investment has gone into creating the unique variety and building our premium Envy brand, which is why we strongly protect and defend our IP to ensure its value flows through to consumers, customers, licensed growers and communities,” said Rogers.

The victory sets a precedent for future PVR cases involving vegetative propagation plants. It also boosts confidence in the agrifood industry in China and its ability to address infringement cases related to produce.

- Darren Barton

Law firms