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AgResearch and Pennington Seed Settle Lawsuit

AgResearch and Pennington Seed announce US settlement of tall fescue endophyte patent lawsuit

27 October 2006

AgResearch USA Limited and Pennington Seed Inc announced a finalised agreement recently with four defendant parties named in their patent lawsuit filed July 12, 2006 in federal court in the Western District of Missouri, USA.

The principal defendant is Anderson Farms of Clinton, Missouri. The lawsuit enforced Pennington Seed and AgResearch’s patent rights to the MaxQ® technology. As part of settlement, the defendant parties agreed to cease unauthorised seed production, saving, replanting and sales of tall fescue seed containing the MaxQ® technology. Damages were assessed in the amount of $US150,000.

MaxQ® is a patented technology uniting a revolutionary non-toxic endophyte with high quality pasture grass. The technology enables livestock producers to increase profits per acre through healthier and higher weight-gain livestock. MaxQ® eliminates fescue toxicosis, a sickness that can affect cattle, horses and other fescue-grazing livestock. The MaxQ® technology is backed by a 100% customer satisfaction guarantee.

MaxQ® endophyte technology was developed by AgResearch and commercialised in collaboration with its subsidiary Grasslanz Technology Ltd. It is marketed in New Zealand and Australia as MaxP® by PGG Wrightson Seeds Ltd.

Grasslanz Technology CEO John Caradus says the successful prosecution will serve as a message to the farming community in the USA.

“It is important that farmers are aware that there is significant IP contained within MaxQ® and MaxP® tall fescue seed. Grasslanz and its partners have put in a lot of work over several years to bring this technology to market. Replanting the seed amounts to intellectual property theft.”

In the USA, Pennington Seed and AgResearch have established an educational program designed to fully assist farmers who wish to implement the MaxQ® technology into their fields. As part of this educational program, the terms of use for the technology are set forth in detail.

Under the terms of the patent and the purchase agreement, buyers of tall fescue seed containing the MaxQ® technology are expressly prohibited from harvesting, saving, replanting, selling, and otherwise transferring of any seed produced when MaxQ® is planted and grown.

In Missouri and surrounding areas, Pennington may purchase high quality seed harvested from fields of Jesup MaxQ® tall fescue by select seed growers with the express pre-approval and licensure of the technology. A harvest of this Jesup variety seed is authorised only after the grower has signed a Seed Production Agreement with Pennington Seed at its Greenfield, Missouri facility and has identified the acreage and expected seed yields.

Pennington Seed Inc. is a leading manufacturer and distributor of lawn, garden, turf care, forage grasses, wildlife and bird food products, in the USA. Pennington Seed is the largest packager of grass seed in the world. Based in Madison, Georgia, Pennington Seed was founded in 1945 by Brooks Pennington Sr. Pennington Seed is today owned by Central Garden & Pet (NASDAQ: CENT).


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