Hartmann Plant Company Ordered to Stop Selling Infringing Blueberry Plant Varieties after Admitting to Willfully Infringing University of Florida’s Patents

| Baraa KahfKendall Loebbaka

Editors: John Sganga, Joseph Cianfrani and Boris Zelkind

Patent Judgments & Awards

Univ. of Fla. Bd. of Trustees v. Hartmann’s Plant Co., No. 1:16-CV-00027-MW-GRJ (N.D. Fla.)

The University of Florida obtained patents covering new varieties of blueberry plants that can be grown in warmer climates.  The University of Florida licensed these plants to companies, including Hartmann’s Plant Company in 2000.  In 2004, Hartmann notified the University of Florida that it was terminating the licenses.  In February 2016, the University of Florida sued Hartmann for willful infringement of the patent.  The University of Florida alleged that instead of liquidating its blueberry plants as required upon termination of the license, Hartmann continued to sell the blueberry plants.  After the court denied the University’s emergency motion for a temporary restraining order, the parties agreed to a preliminary injunction that required Hartmann to certify destruction of the infringing plants.  After nearly a year of negotiations, the parties reached final agreement.  On July 21, 2017, the court entered a consent judgment, whereby Hartmann Plant Company admitted to willfully infringing the University of Florida’s blueberry plant patents, to the validity of the patents, and that its conduct makes the case exceptional.  Hartmann also agreed to pay the University $1 million in damages.  Hartmann is now permanently enjoined from reproducing or selling the infringing plants.