Monrovia Nursery Company v. James M. Green et al

Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie LLP advised Monrovia Nursery Company on the deal.

Monrovia Nursery Company obtained a victory in a patent infringement lawsuit over the origin and ownership of a double-flowering Mandevilla vine

A federal appeals court recently affirmed Monrovia Nursery’s motion for summary judgment against all claims brought by James M. Green et al. The Greens had claimed that Monrovia owed them royalties from plants originating from one of their mandevilla plant cultivars.

The case stems from a 1998 license agreement between the parties concerning a double-flowering mandevilla cultivar called ‘Rita Marie Green’ and sold by Monrovia under the brand name Pink Parfait®. In 2000, Monrovia discovered a branch mutation on another mandevilla cultivar it owned called ‘Monite’. Monrovia propagated plants from the branch mutation and developed a double-flowering cultivar, which it named ‘Monrey’. Monrovia obtained a plant patent on the ‘Monrey’ cultivar in 2003 and sold the plant under the brand name Tango Twirl®. In its lawsuit, the Greens asserted that ‘Monrey’ was derived from a branch mutation of a ‘Rita Marie Green’ plant, not a ‘Monite’ plant, and therefore Monrovia should have paid them royalties.

Finding evidence lacking that the Tango Twirl originated from the ‘Rita Marie Green’, the U.S. District Court of the Central District of California in 2019 granted Monrovia’s motion for summary judgment of non-infringement on all asserted claims. The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed this judgment in early January 2021.

Lewis Roca partners David Dillard (Picture) and Gregory Lampert along with firm associate, Drew Wilson,  led the successful defense.

Involved fees earner: David Dillard – Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie LLP; Gregory Lampert – Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie LLP;

Law Firms: Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie LLP;

Clients: Monrovia Nursery Company;

Author: Martina Bellini