“This is a very important development in the turf industry as a whole,” remarked Tobey Wagner, president of Sod Solutions. “This case of protecting and enforcing a plant patent involving turf sends a strong message to the industry that turf patents are valid and enforceable.”
In this particular case, an unauthorized grower purchased the patented and trademarked grass, Celebration, and planted several acres that were later expanded. Reports from several sources relayed this information to Sod Solutions, which subsequently investigated the allegations. “The Turfgrass Producers of Texas (TPT), individual producers and others were instrumental in providing information and support for this case,” stated Wagner. “We are very appreciative of the cooperation by the TPT association and others that assisted us in moving this case along to a fair and positive conclusion.”
Several universities, private companies and individuals have patented turfgrasses for many years. Few cases involving infringement have ever been engaged and pursued, leaving some to question the validity of turf patents. “This is a clear case where the patent and trademark stood up,” said Wagner. “Thankfully most businesses and individuals want to do what is right, but it is good to know that when this is not the case, patents do have teeth.”
Celebration Bermudagrass is a patented and trademarked grass with over 50 licensed growers nationwide and additional producers in Brazil, Australia and Europe. Celebration is owned by Sod Solutions and is released in Texas and Florida through joint ventures with the Turfgrass Producers of Texas (TPT) and the Florida Sod Growers Cooperative (FSGC), respectively. Celebration has become a widely used, improved bermudagrass variety used in home lawns, golf courses and sports fields. It is a highly rated, dark green grass that is tough and hard wearing. It is also the most shade and drought tolerant bermuda on the market.