After more than a decade of legal battles, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has ruled in favour of the Moroccan royal family, which had taken action against a farmer in Murcia, Spain, who was exploiting the Nadorcott mandarin without prior authorisation. A victory for the Moroccan royal family.
After a long legal battle lasting almost 15 years, the company Nador Cott Protection, belonging to the Moroccan royal family, has won its case against the company José Cánovas Pardo SL, owned by a farmer based in Murcia, Spain. The company was accused of growing the mandarin orange called « Nadorcott » without the owner’s consent. The facts date back to 2006.
At that time, Pardo had started to cultivate a plantation of the « Nadorcott » variety on a plot of land in the town of Alhama de Murcia (Murcia). The company Gestión de Licencias Vegetales (Geslive), which had managed the rights of the licensee company for the « Nadorcott » mandarins until 2008, had sent formal notices to Pardo to stop the exploitation of this plant variety.
In 2011, the « Variedades Vegetales Protegidas » club, which in turn manages the rights of the company licensed for « Nadorcott » mandarins, requested preliminary proceedings before a court. It is suing the Pardo company for infringement of the rights to the « Nadorcott » variety from February 1996 to 2006. The club had claimed 35,000 euros as compensation. But the court of first instance rejected this claim.
In its decision, it explained that « the three-year limitation period provided for in the regulations had expired, and that the owner was aware of the acts of exploitation committed by the company Pardo, at least since October 2007 ». The club appealed to the Provincial Court of Murcia. The court ruled that « the statute of limitations only applied to acts of exploitation committed more than three years before the adoption of the preliminary proceedings ».
Padro then turned to the Supreme Court to challenge this interpretation. The court decided to refer the matter to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). This court finally ruled in favour of Nador Cott Protection. A victory thus awarded to the Moroccan royal family.