"It's a rotten scam," says Dale Zemlicka, one of the six farmers that South Dakota State University sued Monday for brown bagging seed that it developed and licensed under the Plant Variety Protection Act. The act protects intellectual property rights and allows patent holders to collector royalties on seed sold.
Zemlicka, Watertown, S.D., says he's innocent -- that SDSU entrapped him when he answered a "seed wanted" ad.
"It's the rottenest scam I've ever had in my life," says Zemlicka, 79.
Kevin Kephardt, SDSU vice-president for research, says SDSU hired an investigator to gather evidence of suspected brown bagging.
"Our principal goal is to support farmers who rely on the continued development of better wheat varieties for their farming success," Kephardt said in a statement released by the university. "It is in the long-term best interest of the entire wheat industry to respect the existing laws and regulations."
Besides Zemlicka, SDSU filed suits in federal court against Jim Hauge, Howard, S.D., Duane and Tom Bannwarth and Bannwarth Farms, Mitchell, S.D.; Brad Bechen, Lake Andes, S.D.; and John Coughlin, DeSmet, S.D.
SDSU claims that Hauge brown bagged Traverse wheat and the others brown bagged Briggs wheat.
Attempts to reach the other farmers SDSU has sued were not successful.
Kephardt says that SDSU recently joined a coalition of seed companies and land grant universities called the Farmers Yield Initiative to educate farmers about PVP and to enforce the act. See www.farmersyieldinitiative.com.
Kansas State University, Nebraska State University Colorado State University and Oklahoma State University are the other universities in the coalition.
North Dakota State University is not listed as a member.
"These universities have won cases against seed violators in federal courts. Recently in Kansas, a producer accused of infringing a variety developed by Kansas State agreed to a $150,000 judgment," Kephardt said.