Significant Win for Agrochemical Client

Date: April 13, 2017

Steve Tiller, Barry Neuman and Peter Davis have obtained a significant victory for our client Willowood, LLC, a generic crop protection company, that will have nationwide reverberations in the agrochemical industry.  In an April 10 ruling, a federal district court  in Greensboro, NC held that copyright laws do not apply to labels that accompany federally-approved pesticide products.  For decades, the “basic” manufacturers of crop protection products have asserted that their labels – which are more akin to lengthy instruction manuals – are protected by copyright and therefore generic companies must re-write those labels for each generic product.  A 2006 decision by a another federal court had held that copyright protection applies.  That ruling has long been decried not only by generic companies, but by the USEPA, which believe the ruling would unnecessarily strain its resources and is inconsistent with environmental protection goals.  In its April 10 ruling, the Greensboro court found the prior decision to be “unconvincing,” holding instead that federal pesticide law “contemplates that a [generic] applicant will copy from the original pesticide label in ways that would otherwise infringe a copyright…Congress intended a narrow exception to copyright protection for the required elements of pesticide labels as against me-too registrants.”  
For further information, contact:
Barry S. Neuman