PepsiCo has offered to settle a lawsuit it has brought against four small farmers in India accusing them of growing a patented variety of potato – a case that has brought the food and beverage giant some bad publicity.
PepsiCo’s Indian subsidiary sued the four farmers in Gujarat state, each of whose farms are only a few acres, for allegedly using varieties of potato that were patented by PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay unit. The suit asks for damages of 10 million rupees ($143,107) from each defendant. In a hearing April 26, the company’s lawyer offered to drop the suit and seek no damages if the four defendants joined PepsiCo’s authorized production unit, agreeing to sell only to PepsiCo. A lawyer for the farmers asked for time to consider the offer.
The farmer defendants are being supported by Indian agricultural and other advocacy groups who see the case as another case of American or global business giants infringing on national sovereignty.