Voters demand recount in Dicamba race, Electric Tequila, and other legal news to ponder from Cape Law Firm

You say “Dicamba,” some say “Di-crapa”

The American Soybean Association and Plains Cotton Growers have sued the EPA, demanding a vote re-count to overturn the new restrictions for applying dicamaba over-the-top of dicamba-tolerant crops (okay, not exactly a re-count, but the presidential election analogy was too good to pass up). ASA and Plains Cotton have sued to force the EPA to (i) eliminate for the June/July 30 cutoffs for OVT applications, and (ii) eliminate the buffers for neighboring crops & endangered species. The suit also seeks a declaration that dicamba will have “no effect” and is “not likely to adversely affect” endangered species (and EPA should pay their attorney’s fees).
According to the lawsuit, gun-toting, drug-dealing, glyphosate-resistant weeds are “crushing crop yields, overwhelming entire fields, and financially harming farmers.” ASA and Plains Cotton insist that the cutoff dates and buffers will doom American agriculture: “Without Dicamba Products in their arsenal, many farms would be largely defenselss in their fight agasint weeds.”

If you detect a bit of sarcasm, it might be becasue there are other tools in the farming arsenal besides dicamba (ever hear of Enlist?). Some growers are even questioning whether its possible to ever make a profit with these new herbicide trait systems. This lawsuit is almost a perfect reflection of the current state of national debate on virtually any topic – sides which unable to agree on the facts, let alone how to engage in meaningful dialogue. I just hope that all of us in agriculture don’t suffer down the road becasue of the hyperbole that now seems to pass for “facts.”

Holy Guacamole! This Tequila is Electric!

Never underestimate the ridiculous power and value of a strong brand! Last week Tesla (the electric car company) launched its own brand of tequila – Tesla Tequila! Even at $250 a bottle, Tesal Tequila sold out within days. While it comes in a really cool-looking bottle shaped like a lighting bolt, its popularity was no doubt the result of the well-known Tesla brand.

The liquor idea originated with an April Fool’s Day joke by Tesla founder Elon Musk in which he tweeted a photo of himself passed out agasint a Tesla Model 3 surrounded by tequila bottles. In the tweet, Musk claimed that Tesla was bankrupt. Six months later Tesla filed an application to register the name “Teslaquila” as a trademark for distilled agave liquor (the application was later abandoned due in part a refusal on likelihood of confusion grounds with the Spirit Tesla mark).

Brands can be incredibly powerful. If you are building a brand, it is always a good idea to protect it with a trademark registration and use it heavily to gain market recognition. And please pass me the salt and lime!

Cape Law Firm’s Frequently (or Randomly) Asked Questions

“Can I save this seed?”

With more and more seed genetics protected by some form of intellectual property (patent, pvp, etc.), I get this question quite a bit. The attraction of using saved seed is easy – it can shave a significant amount off of input costs. But seed companies invest a lot of time and money to develop new varieties and I.P. protection is one of the main ways to recoup that investment.

So how can you determine whether you can save a particular variety? Here are a few things to look for:

  • Is there someting that indicates the variety can’t be saved? A tag, a bag label, a contract, or an invoice? There should be some sort of notice that the variety is protected and cannot be saved.
  • Are you required to get a license to plant (use) the seed? This could be a signed license, a label license, or an electronic document that you have to “click” to sign.
  • Even if a license is required, does it prohibit saving seed? Some licenses now allow growers to save a certain amount of seed, or use the variety in two or more seasons.
  • If all else fails, ask the seed dealer. They should be able to tell you what you’re allowed to do with a variety (although they have an interest in seeing you come back for more seed next year).

Earlier this week I did a podcast with Tiffany Dowell Lashmet of Texas A&M Agrilife Extension outlining the do’s and dont’s around saving seed. Here is the link if you would like to hear an more in-depth discussion on the topic.

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