Siegers Seed Co. Threatens Action over Warty Pumpkins

| 2/6/2009 9:19:00 AM

I admit to being more than a little disappointed that Siegers Seed Co. is already playing hardball over its claim to own exclusive rights to the wart trait in cucurbits. The company evidently sent a threatening letter to Rupp Seed Company on January 12th warning that they would seek damages if Rupp didn’t cease any and all marketing, development and sales efforts at this time … once Siegers’ patent on warts was approved.

The problem with patent pending in this case is that Siegers seems to have figured out a way to own a common cucurbit gene for several years, at the very least, by tying it up in what appears to be a bogus patent application. So even if it turns out that the patent is not awarded, by the time all of the appeals and the like are completed, Siegers can threaten other companies with action, while selling wart-gene containing seeds exclusively until the case is finally settled.

Here are some facts about cucurbit warts:

1. The warted gourds were considered to be a "race" of Cucurbita pepo already in 1786.

2. Warted pumpkins 'Nantucket' and 'Brazilian Sugar' were described by numerous authors in the 19th century. According to Harry Paris, cucurbit expert and author, Bailey’s (1902) Cyclopedia of American Horticulture, pp. 1711–1713, has an illustration of 'Nantucket'. And Zhiteneva (1930) The World's Assortment of Pumpkins. Trudy Prikl. Bot. Genet. Selek. 23: 157 – 207 has photographs of numerous warted pumpkins.

3. Warted gourds of Cucurbita pepo have a history dating to 1587.

3/4/2009 8:56:51 PM

You should all be pleased to know the Patent Office has rejected all the claims. Go to the site, Public PAIR, search for application 11/999153, and read the "non-final rejection" of 2/13/2009. Applicants can rebut, and then perhaps even appeal the rejection, and YOU can follow along as they do.

2/22/2009 5:35:32 PM

The answer is clear: Buy warty pumpkin seeds from other sources now, while you can, and grow them and save seed. Or if, like me, you have last year's "Rouge vif d'Etampes" pumpkin decomposing on your front porch (it's become quite the interesting science project) see if the seeds are saveable. Share them with your friends. I say again, SHARE them. Not sell them, SHARE them. Write them and tell them how appalling this action is. Vote with your wallet, and lick a stamp. Tell Siegers that gardeners know ... compost ... when they see it. What will they think of next? A patent for round zukes? yellow cukes? striping in tomatoes? Hank, does this company wholesale to other seed companies? Should we be asking our local seed providers to avoid them? Here's the company's contact info: Toll Free: (800) 962-4999 Siegers Seed Company · 13031 Reflections Drive · Holland, MI 49424 Phone: (616) 786-4999

April M
2/17/2009 2:06:44 PM

Thank you very much for providing the source materials. I've gotten to the point that I don't believe a thing unless I can read the source material for anything. Passing the info on.....

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