Pepsi agrees to withdraw lawsuit against Indian potato farmer on patent infringement

PepsiCo Inc. has agreed to withdraw lawsuits against Indian potato farmers who were accused of infringing its patent after discussions with the government, Pepsi's spokesperson said without disclosing the details.

The company filed a law suit against four farmers and sued five other farmers for the patent infringement but encountered widespread outrage and was forced to resolve it.

Farmers were sued for cultivating the potato variety used in the Lay's potato chips manufactured and sold by PepsiCo India. These potatoes are cultivated and supplied by 24,000 farmers in 10 to 12 states of the country on a contractual basis.

The spokesperson said on Thursday that the company relied on the above discussion to find long-term and amicable solutions to seed protection issues.

At a hearing held in Ahmadabad court in India's western Gujarat state on April 26, PepsiCo said if the farmers refrain from using the registered variety or choose to obtain license from it for continuing the cultivation, the matter can be solved.

A statement issued by the Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture said, "We believe that this withdrawal is an acceptance of farmers rights, and this is apt."

This specific variety of potato is registered under The Protection of Plant Varieties and Protection of Farmers Rights Act 2001. The PepsiCo counsel had earlier said that the farmers were illegally growing, producing and selling potatoes without permission of the company.

(Source: Xinhua)