SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA
A San Francisco court judged retired professor Douglas Shaw to be guilty of patent infringement and violating an agreement signed with the University of California, Davis. Shaw had been head of the university’s strawberry breeding program for twenty years before starting his own for-profit, California Berry Cultivars. Upon retirement, Shaw sued the university for $45 million, saying much of his work had been destroyed, and seeds that remained were locked in freezers instead of being made available to benefit humanity. In partnership with Kirk Larson, Shaw is credited with developing the breeds cultivated by most California growers. Their twenty-four varieties have qualities like an extended growing season, denser yield, stronger disease- and pest-resistance, and better durability for long hauls. California’s $2 billion strawberry industry is first in the nation, and growers were counting on the duo to keep it competitive. But the university countersued Shaw, saying he used seeds without permission. A separate jury will decide how much he owes in damages.