By David Ovalle
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) It’s avocado madness in a Florida courtroom where a company that holds a U.S. patent for the Carla (basically a giant avocad0), is suing a Miami produce distributor, claiming that it is illegally selling Carlas in South Florida from another grower.
Deep in a lush remote valley in the Dominican Republic, the discovery of a single very special tree spawned a new species of avocado.
Called the Carla, it has since emerged as a rock star of the avocado world, combining the buttery richness of the popular but small California-grown Hass with the prodigious size of Florida varieties.
The Carla created a sensation when a high-end British retailer began stocking the “party-size” fruit large enough to make a loaf of avocado toast.
Now, the Carla’s “inventor” is in Miami federal court suing to protect its exclusive rights to sell a valuable product sought by trendy foodies. With allegations of tree-branch theft, clandestine cloning and DNA tests on competitors’ produce, it’s not your everyday patent infringement case.
Agroindustria Ocoena, the Dominican company that holds a U.S. patent for the Carla, is suing a Miami produce distributor, Fresh Directions International, claiming that it is illegally selling Carlas in South Florida from another grower.
They aren’t knock-off avocados either, the lawsuit argues. DNA tests show they are virtual Carla clones, which the suit suggests can mean only a grifted graft, somebody pruned and pilfered Carla tree branches to recreate their own orchard.
“The party who is importing the illegal fruit either has to stop, or license the patent from my client,” said Coral Gables lawyer Ury Fischer, who represents Agroindustria Ocoena, listed in patent documents as the Carla tree inventor.
As part of its research, Agroindustria’s legal team visited supermarkets around Miami, filling their office with dozens of avocados for testing. They did not, he say, all go to waste afterward.