Wednesday, June 30, 2010

It takes more than two to SweetTango

A Poison PR Apple at the University of Minnesot

From the (local) Red-Wing, Minnesota, Eagle:

June 30, 2010

The deal just seemed wrong to Vince Steffen.

The Mazeppa apple grower said an agreement between the University of Minnesota and Lake City-based Pepin Heights Orchard unfairly restricts the production of a highly coveted apple.

"It makes a big disadvantage," he said Tuesday. "It just doesn't seem to be the right way to do things to Minnesota growers."

Steffen joined a group of 26 Minnesota apple growers suing Pepin Heights and the university, claiming the agreement limits their ability to sell and distribute the SweeTango apple, a cross between the Honeycrisp and Zestar varieties.

Other Minnesota growers can - and have - been producing the SweeTango, but the agreement prohibits them from selling to wholesalers or pooling production to wholesale the apple.

"The only manner by which plaintiffs can sustain their business is by selling SweeTango to large wholesalers or retailers," the civil complaint states.

The suit claims a 2009 advanced marketing campaign between the university and Pepin Heights proclaimed SweeTango "the Honeycrisp killer" - a reference to the popular apple variety.

Since the growers help provide university funding, "we should have some of the benefits of that product," Steffen said.

According to the complaint, the university's development team is to receive 33 percent of the apple's sales royalties. Another one-third of royalties goes to the university's research office, while 25 percent goes to the university's department that supported creation of the apple's intellectual property.

The final 8 percent goes to the apple creator's college, the complaint states.

The University of Minnesota is an economic engine for the state? Cui bono?

The University of Minnesota creates jobs? Looks like this greedy and mean-spirited unilateral licensing agreement will put many Minnesota growers out of business.

Is this what a land grant university should be doing?

Another absurd PR move by the Morrill Hall Gang...


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