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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Alleged Patent Violation -- of Mushrooms -- Spawns S.F. Lawsuit

Posted By on Tue, Mar 16, 2010 at 7:59 AM

click to enlarge A witness for the prosecution -- or the defense?
  • A witness for the prosecution -- or the defense?
For those of you who never thought they'd read an article in which the terms "patent infringement" and "mushrooms" were juxtaposed -- Oh happy day, your time has come.

In recent years, items even erstwhile patent clerk Albert Einstein couldn't have conceived of have won the patent office's seal of approval. So, yes, you can patent a mushroom. And if someone else starts growing it -- you can sue them.

That's just what Watsonville-based Amycel, Inc. did earlier this month. The company was last year granted a patent for "Brown Mushrooms for Commercial Production." Amycel sells its patented brown mushrooms throughout the realm by offering "mushroom spawn" -- mushroom fungal cultures transferred onto sterilized grain, which then serve as "seeds." Via this "spawn" you can grow your own "Brawn" or "Heirloom" mushrooms.

But Amycel filed suit in San Francisco superior court claiming a rival company stole its "Heirloom," so to speak. 

The Watsonville company claims Lambert Spawn of Pennsylvania -- which claims to be the oldest spawn company in the nation -- has made off with its mushrooms. Amycel claims Lambert's "L808" spawn is nothing more than the Brawn or Heirloom in a different bag -- and says they've done the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing to prove it.

Amycel is claiming patent infringement and unfair competition -- and they want payment in money, not mushrooms.

We phoned Amycel attorneys Bradley Bening and Bruce MacLeod of San Jose to ask some questions about mushroom law. Sadly, they were unavailable to talk toadstool.

H/T   |   Courthouse News

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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