PepsiCo Inc. has sued four Indian farmers for cultivating a potato variety that the snack food and drinks maker claims infringes its patent.
Pepsi has sued the farmers for cultivating the FC5 potato variety, grown exclusively for its popular Lay’s potato chips. The FC5 variety has a lower moisture content required to make snacks such as potato chips.
The company is seeking more than 10 million rupees ($142,840) from each farmer for alleged patent infringement.
“We have been growing potatoes for a long time and we didn’t face this problem ever, as we’ve mostly been using the seeds saved from one harvest to plant the next year’s crop,” said one of the farmers being sued.
PepsiCo supplies the FC5 potato variety to a group of farmers who in turn sell their produce to the company at a fixed price. The company said the four farmers could join the group of growers who exclusively grow the FC5 variety for its Lay’s potato chips.
“PepsiCo India has proposed to amicably settle with the people who were unlawfully using the seeds of its registered variety,” the company said in a statement. “PepsiCo has also proposed that they may become part of its collaborative potato farming program.”
A farmer forum for India has called for a boycott of PepsiCo products and asked the government to intervene.