Legal battle intensifies over Campari tomato - The Packer

Legal battle intensifies over Campari tomato

10/31/2008 12:00:00 AM
Ashley Bentley

In 2005, Eurofresh, BC Hot House and Mastronardi formed The Campari Marketing Group. It disbanded in 2007.

By 2005, Eurofresh, BC Hot House and Mastronardi were the only companies marketing campari through an agreement with Enza Zaden, and they formed The Campari Marketing Group. That agreement expired last year, Gingrich said, although Westgro still maintains a deal with Enza Zaden to supply the seed.

Mastronardi unveiled its campari tomato to the industry at PMA’s Fresh Summit 2003, but the company’s trademark application noted it had grown the variety since 1995.

It is because of this claim, along with the fact that campari is a tomato variety and not a brand name, that Westgro is trying to get Mastronardi’s trademark cancelled.

According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office: “If the examining attorney determines that wording sought to be registered as a mark for live plants, agricultural seeds, fresh fruits or fresh vegetables comprises a varietal or cultivar name, then the examining attorney must refuse registration …”

Gingrich said he realized the clause when Westgro pursued a trademark on the name for the Canadian market.

In the latest proceeding in the case, Mastronardi filed an answer to Westgro’s petition for cancellation on Oct. 28.

“Now we have an answer, which basically denied all claims that were made in the petition to cancel,” said David Sams, chief judge of the trademark trial and appeal board.

Because trademark litigation is done completely on paper, and not in court, should the case continue, Westgro will have a chance to make its case, followed by Mastronardi’s defense and a rebuttal period, with time for gathering information between each phase. The rebuttal period is scheduled to close in September.

Gingrich said Westgro has supplied Eurofresh and Village Farms with campari seed for the 2009 crop.

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