Delhi High Court Upholds Revocation Of Registration Of PepsiCo India For Potato Variety Used In Lay’s Chips


The Delhi High Court in the case Pepsico India Holdings Pvt. Ltd v. Kavitha Kuruganti observed and has upheld the order passed by the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers Rights Authority wherein it revoked the registration of Pepsico India’s with respect to the potato variety used for making Lay’s chips.
The bench of Justice Navin Chawla in the case observed and has dismissed the appeal moved by the PepsiCo India Holdings Private Limited wherein it challenged the order of the Authority’s passed last year on December 03 on an application filed by Kavitha Kurungati, who being the farmers’ rights activist.
The court in the case observed and has upheld the letter of Authority dated 11.02.2022, wherein the court rejected the application of PepsiCo’s for renewal of its registration.
Therefore, the said authority in the case observed and had denied the relief to PepsiCo on various grounds which are mentioned under section 34 of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act, 2001. Thus, the said provision stated that the protection granted to a breeder in respect of a plant variety may, on an application of any person interested needs to be revoked by the Authority on certain grounds.
It has also been observed by the said Authority that the grant of the certificate of registration was being based on incorrect information which is furnished by PepsiCo with regards to the date of the first sale of the potato variety and its category which being new instead of extant.
The court observed that the certificate of registration was not in public interest and it was not granted to the person who was not eligible for protection under the statute.
The bench of Justice Chawla stated that there being no ground of interference with the impugned order was made out by PepsiCo, as even otherwise, the application made for the registration was deficient for its failure to provide necessary documents as it is being required under Section 16 reading with Section 18(3) of the Act and Rule 27.
Further, the court in the case stated that an applicant seeking registration must be put to strict and vigilant compliance with the requirements of the Act, Rules, and Regulations, failing which it opens itself up to revocation of the registration which is granted.
The court in the case stated that the mere filing of the litigations by the appellant against the farmers, even after presuming the same to be completely frivolous, cannot be construed as satisfying the test of grant of registration itself not the same being in public interest. Therefore, the said Authority erred in revoking the registration which is granted in favour of the appellant.
The court observed that it has been mentioned by the PepsiCo in the petition filed that FL 2027 is a chipping potato variety with low external defects, high dry matter or the high solid contents and stable sugars, all of which make it highly suitable for the manufacture of chips and because of the qualities it requires more time and energy in the cooking process. The court while making it suitable for the use as a table potato or for everyday cooking in households. Therefore, the said applicant in the case uses it for the manufacture of potato chips under the Lay’s brand.
It was also argued before the court that the potato variety FL 2027, i.e., the commercial name – FC-5 was developed in USA by Dr. Robert W. Hoopes, the plant breeder and also the former employee of Frito-Lay Agricultural Research, thus, the division of PepsiCo Inc.