Houweling’s Tomatoes, the greenhouse grower headquartered in Delta, British Columbia, has been successful in defending its intellectual property for UltraClima Semi-Closed Greenhouse patent. It’s a design used in its California and Utah properties.
The patent was opposed by 11 greenhouse manufacturers. On October 11, 2019, the U.S. Patent Trial and Appeal Board ruled against the lead challenger Van Der Hoeven Horticultural Projects. The decision was based on the fact that Van der Hoeven failed to show that claims in the Ultra-Clima patent were unpatentable.
“It is not our first time defending the patent over the years,” David Bell, chief marketing officer for Houweling’s told The Grower. “The Ultra Clima design is a gold standard and has considerable research and development cost and expertise. It is not technology that is available to others through license which allows recuperation for the significant investment.”
A November 2017 article in Forbes, penned by Stephen Key, underlines some key points about whether patents matter in today’s competitive marketplace. He wrote: “Contrary to popular belief, a patent does not protect your technology from being infringed upon by a competitor. It merely affords you with legal recourse in the event that someone does.”
He warns that if you try to enforce patent rights in courts, plan on spending three to five years. And expect that getting a judgment costs millions of dollars. He quotes Silicon Valley patent attorney Damon Kali:
“A patent gives you a seat at the table, both offensively and defensively. That’s it. In other words, a patent gets you some relevance and some leverage. How much relevance and leverage depends on how you play your hand and how deep your pockets are.”
Source: Houweling’s October 30, 2019 news release