UPDATED: Greenhouse seed supply deal means sourcing changes

10/14/2009 04:13:47 PM
Ashley Bentley

Mastronardi had a settlement with Enza Zaden with respect to distribution rights, Mastronardi said, but he could not confirm whether that meant the company would be able to source its seeds through a supplier other than Westgro.

In the trademark case, Westgro originally accused Mastronardi of fraud on the U.S. Trademark Office and of applying for a trademark for a variety name, which cannot legally hold a trademark.

However, Westgro also applied for a trademark on the name itself.

“Here’s a company accusing us of something when it’s something they did themselves,” Mastronardi said. “You can’t call the kettle black.”

As part of its defense against Westgro, Mastronardi alleged Westgro “no longer will be able to sell and distribute Campari tomato seeds,” after Dec. 31, the date Westgro’s former agreement with Enza Zaden was set to expire. Mastronardi was asking for the case to be suspended until that date, after which Westgro would not have the legal standing to argue the trademark.

“‘Standing’ is the principle that parties to an action must have a real interest in the outcome and are not mere intermeddlers,” Gingrich said, with counsel from the company’s attorneys. “Westgro has a real interest in whether Mastronardi may assert the color of legal authority associated with its trademark registration.”

Mastronardi’s motion to suspend was not considered by the trademark board.

As of Oct. 15, the latest movement in the case was Mastronardi’s Aug. 24 response to Westgro’s request for summary judgment, followed by Westgro’s Sept. 11 statement in support of its motion.

The request for summary judgment, which Westgro filed in March after two rounds of Mastronardi-requested extensions, focuses on only one fact in the case: that Campari is the name of a plant varietal and cannot be a trademark name, whether by Mastronardi or by Westgro itself.

By requesting summary judgment, Westgro ignores the other issues in its original petition to cancel, including the alleged fraud, in hopes that the single issue will be enough to cancel the trademark.

Gingrich said Mastronardi Produce, Eurofresh Farms Inc., Willcox, Ariz.; Village Farms, Eatontown, N.J., and a small grower — Delta, British Columbia-based Windset Farms — are the sole growers of Campari as of Oct. 1, and there are no plans for change.


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