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12 I EUROPEAN SEED I EUROPEAN-SEED.COM facility it is impossible to determine if it originates from an illegal source as its physical characteristics and DNA are exactly identical to the legally obtained products. Therefore inspections of the final product as can be done in most industries is not helpful in the vegetable sector. It is also quite common that sales reps observe infringements of the PVP rights of other companies. Once this happens it is important that these cases are reported as well van Kempen adds. He notes that th is requ i res the infringement issue to be a fixed agenda item at sales meetings and periodic personnel review meetings. It is important to overcome uncomfortable feelings about this subject which often make people pretend it does not exist. To help AIB address this theme within its member organisations Interpol offered its assistance in developing an e-learning module on IP rights in the vegetable seed sector targeted at companies field staff and their interactions with growers and plant breeders like sales reps trial officers customer service staff and product managers. This e-learning module will be initially available in English Italian and Spanish takes about 30 minutes to go through and includes items like why IP rights are important the various forms of IP infringements in the vegetable seeds sector what to look out for when conducting your daily activities and how to act when you see something suspicious. Four past infringement cases are given as illustrations. At the end of the module a quiz has to be taken and the results are automatically sent to the designated companys sales directormanager for evaluation. In short in the vegetable seed industry infringement and piracy can only be overcome with the full support and mobilisation of the seed companies themselves van Kempen says. They have the eyes and ears on the ground. Without this even setting up a dozen more AIBs would not have much impact. Future Trends When it comes to addressing the issue of IP infringement van Kempen sees a number of challenges on the horizon. In countries that have more experience cracking down on it we have the feeling that at least we put a hold on further growth of infringement. In Spain with the help of Geslive we have had a positive impact on the scale of illegal vegetative propagation of tomatoes. In Italy the actions by the Guardia di Finanza and ICQRF in recent last years have at least made any potential infringer aware of the risks and therefore much more careful. This seems to have at least contained the problem says van Kempen. In less-experienced countries with rapidly growing production infringement is on the rise. This can be partly explained by a shift towards higher-value genetics. Also the general level of technical skills is rising opening the door to vegetative propagation. However the paradox in these countries is that PVP is often a relatively young phenomenon with very few varieties with PVP titles. Another driving factor behind the infringement level is the level of protection he notes. It is striking to see that a very high majority of PVP titles in the EU is held by AIB members. The other companies hardly protect any of their varieties see analysis made on evolution of PVP in tomato and lettuce. Other countries from outside Europe are learning from AIB. In America Seed Innovation and Protection Alliance SIPA was created a year ago. They are a joint venture between the vegetable seed industry and the field crop industry. SIPA does not copy the AIB model and is more focused on educational outreach and not enforcement. According to van Kempen in order for an organisation like SIPA to be successful an important qualifier is the commonly shared value about the importance of respecting IP rights. A strong feeling of common interest and collaboration will naturally result in the funding of enforcement action. It is a mistake to think that it is the legal department who has the main role in enforcing IP rights rather than the sales force. IP protection should be embedded in a companys entire organisation with all departments and employees involved van Kempen says. Rijk Zwaan hopes that the positive outcome of its case against Agriseeds will motivate other seed companies to pursue infringement cases too. We have a common goal in protecting plant breeders rights to ensure that seed companies are rewarded for their investments which in turn are necessary in order to continue developing new and improved plant varieties says Suelmann. Vegetable seed industry infringement and piracy can only be overcome with the full support and mobilisation of the seed companies themselves Casper van Kempen