Bayer Claims Syngenta’s Fungicide Appear Infringes Patent

Bayer AG’s CropScience unit, maker of the Chipco Signature fungicide, filed a lawsuit claiming Syngenta AG’s Appear product uses its patented technology and falsely claims to be a superior product.

Leverkusen, Germany-based Bayer, in a complaint filed yesterday, asked a federal court in North Carolina to order the infringement and marketing pitch stopped, as well as cash compensation for any loss of sales or reputation.

The dispute is over a fungicide that includes the compound phthalocyanine, used on citrus plants, golf courses, park lawns and roses. Fungicides, including the Signature line, generated 1.97 billion euros ($2.6 billion) in sales last year for Bayer, or about 5 percent of the company’s revenue, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Syngenta has advertised the “falsely or misleading claim that Appear fungicide delivers improved stress tolerance and greater pythium and anthracnose control than your current Chipco Signature program,” Bayer said in the complaint. Those claims aren’t backed up by Syngenta efficacy trials on Appear, Bayer said.

The patent, called “fungicidal compositions for the enhancement of turf quality,” was first issued in 1997. Bayer last week said it was beefing up its turf and ornamentals management, including appointing a product manager for fungicides.

Basel, Switzerland-based Syngenta is the world’s largest maker of crop chemicals. Fungicides accounted for $3 billion in sales last year, or 23 percent of Syngenta’s revenue, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The company is scheduled to announce first-quarter earnings tomorrow.

Syngenta doesn’t comment on pending litigation, said Paul Minehart, a company spokesman.

The case is Bayer CropScience Inc. v. Syngenta Crop Protection LLC, 13cv316, U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina.

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