Strawberry litigation results in ruling for California college

On Behalf of | Jun 6, 2017 | business torts

For many people, strawberries are a delicious, healthy snack that can typically be easy to find in most grocery stores. However, most consumers are unaware of the years of research a single strawberry may represent. It is this research that recently led to litigation as a result of a conflict between a California college and one of its retired professors.

The case involved a professor who is well-known as a strawberry researcher. Most people in California who grow strawberries benefit from the breeding program he oversaw. The 63-year-old professor, along with another professor who is now his business partner, created dozens of new varieties of strawberries that allow the berries to grow in a shorter season as well as be more robust, allowing them to better withstand transportation.

However, feeling that the program at the University of California, Davis, was winding down, the two professors retired and started their own business. Litigation began when one of the professors sued the university for $45 million, claiming that it had destroyed some of his research and was keeping other aspects frozen. The university countersued, claiming that the man had violated an agreement not to use research gained at the university for personal enrichment; the men, according to the university, infringed on patents owned by the school.

A jury recently ruled in favor of the school. A decision regarding whether the professor must pay damages has yet to be made. Companies, or schools as in this case, often invest a great deal of time and money into the research and development of new products. To protect their investments, it often becomes necessary to pursue litigation. An attorney with experience with intellectual property issues can help people fully understand their options in regard to obtaining such protections.

Source:, “Jury rules with University of California in fight over California strawberries”, Scott Smith, May 24, 2017