According to an order released on Friday by the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights (PPVFR) Authority, India has revoked a patent for a potato variety grown solely for PepsiCo Inc.’s popular Lay’s potato chips.
PepsiCo sued certain Gujarat-based Indian farmers in 2019 for farming the FC5 potato variety, which has a lower moisture content than necessary for snacks like potato chips.
The cases were withdrawn the same year, with the New York-based corporation stating that it wished to resolve the matter peacefully.
Later, Kavitha Kuruganti, a farmer’s rights campaigner, petitioned the PPVFR Authority to have PepsiCo’s FC5 potato variety’s intellectual protection revoked, claiming that India’s rules prohibit patenting seed varieties.
The PPVFR Authority agreed with Kuruganti that PepsiCo could not claim a patent on a seed variety.
“The certificate of registration…is hereby revoked with immediate effect,” KV Prabhu, chairman of the PPVFR Authority said in the order, seen by Reuters.
“We are aware of the order made by the PPVFR Authority and are in the process of assessing it,” a PepsiCo India spokeswoman said.
PepsiCo claims to have produced the FC5 potato variety and registered the trait in 2016.
The firm, which started making potato chips in India in 1989, provides the FC5 seed variety to a group of farmers who then sell their output to the corporation at a predetermined price.
Potato farmers in Gujarat hailed the PPVFR Authority’s decision as a triumph for growers.
“The ruling is a major win for Indian farmers, and it supports their freedom to produce any crop,” said Bipin Patel, a Gujarat-based farmer who was sued by Pepsi in 2019.
Source: Times of India