BASF Agricultural Products steps up fight against product piracy
* Part of worldwide product responsibility towards users and consumers
* Protection of own R&D results
* Measures against patent infringement
The Agricultural Products division of BASF has announced that it will step up its worldwide fight against illegal pesticides. “Whether it’s an infringement of our patent rights, illegal imports or ineffective substances being sold under our brand names – we will relentlessly pursue all violations,” said division president Michael Heinz in the run-up to the “XVI International Plant Protection Congress” in Glasgow from October 15 - 18, 2007. “This is part of our worldwide product responsibility, and we’re doing it to protect our customers.”
At the 2006 congress, the company successfully prevented 17 exhibitors from offering crop protection products which were patented by BASF – with the help of legal injunctions where necessary. Heinz said, “Every year, we invest ten percent or more of our sales revenues in research and development so that we can offer our agricultural customers innovative solutions to their problems. If we vehemently defend ourselves against product piracy, we do so primarily in the interest of our customers and their customers.”
Innovation through research and development is an important asset for BASF, particularly in the field of crop protection. In 2006, BASF invested 334 million euros in crop protection, over 30 million euros more than the year before. As a result, its pipeline of new products being developed or launched is one of the strongest in the industry. The company is now in a constant state of alert to prevent activities which deliberately infringe its existing patents or which are illegal. This includes product counterfeiting and the sale of unapproved pesticides. Without registration, there is no certainty that a substance is effective and safe for humans, the environment and crops.
In Nanjing, China a court recently ruled in favor of BASF and against a dealer who had illegally sold a product with BASF’s active ingredient chlorfenapyr. “This ruling bodes well for other proceedings which are currently underway,” said BASF patent lawyer Reinhold Köster. “There are also signs that intellectual property rights are becoming more important in China and are implemented by jurisdiction.”
Like other companies in the industry, BASF Agricultural Products estimates that it experiences a seven to ten percent sales loss due to the illegal sale of pesticides. Patent right violations make up only one part of this, however. Counterfeit products with fake labels and packaging are of greater consequence, particularly for farmers. There is often a discrepancy between a container’s label and its contents, which may be completely ineffective in extreme cases. BASF is then forced to deal with complaints which tarnish the company’s good reputation with its customers.
For example, a counterfeit BASF herbicide which claimed to contain 40 grams of nicosulfuron per liter was sold with forged labels this spring in Serbia. The company’s own analyses revealed that the substance contained zero percent active substance. Gibfried Schenk, the BASF Agricultural Products manager who is responsible for the region, said, “We initiated a widespread emergency campaign to warn farmers against using the agent. The counterfeit product could have caused considerable economic damage to agricultural crops. Farmers could just as well have used water to combat their weeds.”
With sales of €3,079 million in 2006, BASF’s Agricultural Products division is a leader in crop protection and a strong partner to the farming industry providing well-established and innovative fungicides, insecticides and herbicides. Farmers use these products and services to improve crop yields and crop quality. Other uses include public health, structural/urban pest control, turf and ornamental plants, vegetation management, and forestry. BASF aims to turn knowledge rapidly into market success. The vision of BASF’s Agricultural Products division is to be the world’s leading innovator, optimizing agricultural production, improving nutrition, and thus enhancing the quality of life for a growing world population. Further information can be found on the web at www.agro.basf.com.
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