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10 I EUROPEAN SEED I EUROPEAN-SEED.COM ntellectual property is crucial for the seed industry as it provides the necessary tools for return on the high risk and upfront investments that are needed to create a new plant variety. Unfortunately infringements of IP rights are as old as IP itself. Incorporated in Belgium in 2009 the Anti-Infringement Bureau AIB has seen many successes in combatting IP infringements in the vegetable industry. AIBs mission is to protect breeders rights to vegetable seeds AIB assists its members to prevent piracy and to pursue seed piracy cases. In doing this AIB helps to maintain the integrity of the plant breeders IP protection process in fairness to the tens of thousands of growers who are using protected seeds and who abide by respecting breeders rights trademarks and copyrights. The initial focus of the AIB has been on Greater Europe consisting of the EU and the Mediterranean Basin says Casper van Kempen managing director of AIB. At present AIB has 11 members although Limagrain who counts as one member has three companies enrolled. All members have an equal vote in the General Assembly which normally meets twice a year. Enforcement Decisions AIB has the ability to file complaints with enforcement agencies regarding any observed and verified infringements after consultation with the rights holder concerned. This action has been taken many times in recent years in Italy and Spain where very good relationships have been developed with enforcement agencies says van Kempen. When a request is received from a member for AIB to take civil legal action it is submitted to the board of directors. The board then decides to accept or reject the mandate request in accordance with Protecting Intellectual PropertyThe Anti-Infringement Bureau is protecting plant breeders rights in the vegetable seed industry. its internal rules. The main criteria for this decision are a Is the case linked to a generally occurring industry infringement problem Specific examples of this category are vegetative re-propagation of protected tomato varieties and other grafted crops re-propagation of protected OP varieties like lettuce and beans re-propagation of protected F1 crops onions. b Is there a reasonable expectation for a successful outcome of the case in the jurisdictions concerned c Is a mandate of AIB valid under the jurisdictions concerned The decision to mandate AIB for legal action is an option for AIB members but AIB is under no obligation to accept the mandate. In Italy and Spain AIB raised awareness among plant raisers and growers by filing over 40 legal complaints with authorities. In all cases the enforcement agencies fully cooperated and made inspections of the suspected companies. In Italy AIB has a formal cooperation agreement with the anti-fraud unit of the Ministry of Agriculture. This agreement results in periodic exchanges of information and statistics on infringement and piracy. In Sicily the Guardia di Finanza inspected over 40 greenhouses after AIB submitted a report on the substantial losses in tomato seed sales due to vegetative propagation. In cases where infringement was proven by the test results of the sampled material the enforcement agencies submitted their files with conclusions to the local courts for further follow-up by the prosecutors. Another very important milestone is the incorporation of seed traceability and IP compliance of starting material in the new GlobalGAP version 5.0. This is seen as a major step forward for our industry says van Kempen. It also provides a concrete and cost-effective instrument for retailers and processors to check the integrity of their vegetable sourcing. Casper van Kempen AIB managing director. By Marcel Bruins