Rabat – The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has ruled in the favor of Morocco’s Royal Family, in a legal battle against a Spanish farmer over the unlicensed exploitation of the Nadorcott mandarin.
The court case specifically concerns “Club de Variedades Vegetales Protegidas and Jose Canovas Pardo S.L. (‘Pardo’) – concerning the latter’s cultivation of mandarin trees of the Nadorcott variety without the holder’s consent.” The Nadorcott variety of mandarin is registered to the Nador Cott Protection SARL, which is owned by the Moroccan royal family.
The dispute dates back to 2006 when Pardo began cultivating a grove of 4,457 Nadorcott mandarin trees, in Alhama de Murcia in South-Eastern Spain. At the time, Gestion de Licencias Vegetales (GESLIVE) managed the exclusive license for the rights of the mandarin variety, and they handed a formal notice to Pardo, demanding the cessation of that variety’s cultivation, until he at least applied for the appropriate license.
For the last 15 years, there has been a back and forth between the Murcian farmer and royal family-owned Nador Corr Protection. By 2011, Club de Variedades Vegetales Protegidas had taken over the infringement proceedings, and sought an order requiring Pardo to cease the cultivation of the mandarin variety, and, “if necessary, destroy any plant material of that variety in Pardo’s possession.” The organization also sought €35,000 (MAD 376,332) in compensation.
After a long back and forth, with the court shifting between a ruling in favor of the Murcian farmer and Nador Corr Protection, on April 22, the advocate general of the Court of Justice of the European Union finally ruled in favor of Nador Corr Protection.
The Nadorcott mandarins were also the subject of another legal court battle, between its Moroccan owners and the scientists of the University of California Riverside, when they developed another, similar, variety of the fruit.
For Morocco, the new variety called “Tango” is essentially the same as the one that originated in Morocco but is sold in Spain and other places like South Africa under a different name. In 2016, European Union’s Community Plant Variety Office ruled in favor of the Tango variety.