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PepsiCo Wins Patent Appeal in India

PepsiCo Wins Patent Appeal in India

In January 2023, the Delhi High Court reversed its previous decision dismissing PepsiCo‘s appeal against an order preventing it from enforcing a patent on a potato variety.

PepsiCo had sued Indian farmers in 2019 for growing the FC5 potato variety, used to make its potato chips, claiming patent infringement. It sought over 10 million rupees from each farmer before withdrawing the lawsuits months later amid public backlash.

Picture courtesy: Unsplash

In July 2023, the court ruled against PepsiCo’s petition to enforce its FC5 patent. But on January 9th, this year, Delhi High Court judges Yashwant Varma and Dharmesh Sharma overturned that decision, allowing PepsiCo to protect its patent.

PepsiCo welcomed the new ruling, stating it remains dedicated to working with India’s farming communities. The company first set up a potato chip plant in India in 1989 and currently supplies FC5 seeds to contract farmers who sell their crop to PepsiCo at a fixed price.

“We remain dedicated and will continue to work along with the farming communities ensuring their benefit and overall progress,” a PepsiCo India spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

According to PepsiCo, it exclusively developed the low-moisture FC5 variety critical for making snacks and registered the patent in 2016. However, enforcing patents against farmers in India has proved challenging for multinationals before. Seed company Monsanto, now owned by Bayer, previously withdrew from some Indian businesses after long disputes over intellectual property protections.

The Delhi High Court’s latest judgement represents a victory for PepsiCo’s efforts to defend its potato patent against unauthorized cultivation in India.

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