Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Empire (or at Least UC-Davis) Strikes Back

From time to time on this blog, we have noted the litigation that has resulted at UC-Davis over strawberries.  In the latest twist, Davis has countersued the California Strawberry Commission:

The legal fight between UC Davis and the California strawberry industry is escalating, even as both sides insist they want to patch up an 80-year-old relationship that’s enriched the university and given farmers a bounty of new strawberry varieties.  The University of California sued the California Strawberry Commission this week, firing back against a farmer-controlled organization that sued UC a little more than a year ago. Both lawsuits revolve around the future of UC Davis’ plant-breeding program, which has churned out new kinds of strawberries for nurseries and farmers since the 1930s. In return, the industry has paid the university tens of millions of dollars in royalties and research grants. The relationship turned testy in 2012. The two lead strawberry breeders at UC Davis announced they were leaving the university to form their own plant-breeding company. The Strawberry Commission, which has been helping fund research at Davis for decades, then sued the university. The suit accuses UC Davis of abandoning the program and letting the departing scientists “privatize” their research; it also demands the university turn over a prized collection of 1,500 strawberry plants used in breeding...

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