The U.S. Supreme Court is considering whether to hear a case regarding grape patents held by the California Table Grape Commission.
The Court was scheduled to decide on the case Nov. 20, but that decision wasn’t immediately available.
The court did, however, agree to hear a case this term challenging the federal raisin marketing order, which requires handlers who process and pack raisins to keep part of their product in reserve.
Attorney Brian Leighton who is representing Marvin and Laura Horne, owners of Raisin Valley Farms Marketing LLC, Fresno, Calif., said Nov. 21 the Supreme Court will likely hear oral arguments in the case in March 2013.
Leighton also represents the grape growers who are challenging the patents. Those companies are Delano Farms Co., Delano, Calif.; Gerawan Farming Inc., Reedley, Calif.; and Four Star Fruit Inc., Delano, Calif.
Kathleen Nave, president of the California Table Grape Commission, said Nov. 21 the Supreme Court could announce its decision on whether to hear the grape patent case in the coming days.
Nave said another case involving the commission’s assessments for promotions and marketing that has been in the California state court system for several years is scheduled for trial in June. The same grape growers who are challenging the patents filed the assessment case.
Oral arguments for summary judgment in the table grape assessment case, which would basically end the proceeding if granted, were set for Nov. 20, but the judge in Fresno County Superior Court announced Nov. 19 those arguments would have to wait until April.
The case in the Fresno County court questions whether the assessment is legal under the California Constitution.
A 1996 federal court case questioning the legality of the grape commission’s assessment under the U.S. Constitution — filed by the same grape growers — was handled by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2010, which ruled in favor of the assessment.