It’s my job: Fruit Variety License Manager
A major player in progress
What are the fundamentals of a fruit variety manager ?
The license manager operates upstream of the sector, between creator of varieties and production and trade. They are to be in contact with all stakeholders, including in the industry approaches, often referred to as “club”, as we have done for Pink Lady®, Nectavigne®, Joya® ou Orangered®. Concerning the word “club”, I prefer the designation “process chain”. What is being discussed is a shared commitment to the ultimate goal: create interest through innovation and continuously satisfy consumers with quality.
But before that, the job is technical with the evaluation of varieties delivered by breeders, or the promotion of selected material from producers and technical networks. At Star Fruits, this work is led by nurserymen who are founding members.
The second part of the job is administrative and legal. We manage intellectual property rights, patents (PBRs) or brands. As in any “soft” economy (music, literature, computer …), this means procedures and contracts, followed by licenses and legal treatment of counterfeits.
Finally, our business relationship requires a growth component with the globalization of the economy and the integration of “varietal genetic” factors in a companies’ product policies. It is a multidisciplinary profession in technical marketing, which relies on specialist service providers and requires a strong field presence globally. Finally, it is an occupation that requires imagination, discipline, perseverance, humility, respect for principles, loyalty and authority: We must constantly clear new terrain while staying the course in a changing environment and on a time scale that is measured by the decade! Our job is ultimately to share with the industry regarding the breeding and the coherent technical and economic projects that bring meaningfulness and development.
How is the development of fruit varieties carried out?
Once verified, especially in relation to the French technical network (Ctifl, regional stations), the capacity for a selection to produce in encouraging economic conditions provides a quality fruit, we proceed thus, to its protection and its certification.
The valuation is then performed either through the traditional pattern of promotion and distribution of varieties by certified nurserymen, either through more exclusive patterns.
This second schema tends to multiply. The success of the approach Pink Lady® is news to no one … Yet this is not a rule for Star Fruits. There needs to be a combination of distinctive variety (or range), a market open to innovation and, above all, committed professionals. This second schema is in effect greedy in energy, resources and intelligent actors. But that’s the price of accompanying the genetic progress to the consumer and to ensure that innovation is synonymous with economic progress for all stakeholders, from the breeder to the distributor.
The philosophy of Star Fruits is based on the widest shared contributions of genetics. But in return we expect that the professionalism of the players ensures the valuation and the best expression of the qualitative potential of the fruit varieties offered. With the Pink Lady® approach, we propose an accompanying product to the consumer in order to permanently provide the quality offered by a vertically integrated product policy and an approach involving stakeholders. We believe that a multi-stakeholder model better meets all the parties, unlike the monopolistic patterns that emerge when innovation is captured by dominant economic players.
What are the specific values of French Fruit Variety License Management?
It is historically significant because it had been endorsed in France since the 50s thanks to the UPOV Regulation on the protection of varieties combined with the introduction of fruit certification. Thus, breeders have benefited from a market respecting their rights. The French nurserymen grouped within license management companies like Star Fruit, could become attractive to obtenteurs mondiaux. This allowed the French growers to benefit from privileged access to innovation.
In the 90s, the introduction of Community VOC has hinted at the possibility of exploiting the territory of the Union. But heavy distortions persist within the EU because EU law is not applied evenly, far from it! That is why we created Edifruit as a place of advocacy for French license managers on the issues. French producers are facing economic distortions, while managers face legal distortions. Again, French producers and license managers-nurserymen are bound by common interests. It is therefore this interest in the French fruit production community that guides Star Fruits and its members in their daily commitment to the French arboriculture service. •