Shandong Denghai Pioneer Seeds v. Shaanxi Nongfeng Seeds Co. Ltd. & Shanxi Dafeng Seeds
Beijing Supreme People’s Court
Guiding Case No. 100 (2018)
In 2011, Shaanxi Nongfeng Seeds Company, Ltd. (Nongfeng) (defendant) and Shanxi Dafeng Seeds Company, Ltd. (Dafeng) (defendant) applied for approval of a variety of corn known as Dafeng 30. After DNA testing, the Beijing agriculture academy rejected the corn variety on the ground that it was identical or remarkably similar to another corn variety, Xianyu 335. Shandong Denghai Pioneer Seeds (Denghai) (plaintiff) owned the right—a form of patent-like protection—to Xianyu 335. Nongfeng and Dafeng filed an objection. In 2014, a more thorough series of government tests led to the conclusion that Dafeng 30 was distinct from Xianyu 335. Denghai brought an infringement action. In two subsequent trials, Nongfeng and Dafeng presented the 2014 government report as evidence of the difference between the two strains, and in both instances, the court held that Dafeng 30 was its own unique strain. The intermediate people’s court affirmed. Denghai appealed to the Beijing Supreme People’s Court.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Xiang, Xiaohong, Xia, J.J.)
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