ACLP members have wished to put in place a powerful arbitration system, ensuring fair practices in the negotiation process related to the royalty fee. Indeed, negotiating the royalty fee is the only part of the licensing system that is left open to the Parties, as a standard license agreement has been agreed upon by all members.

In the unlikely event that Parties have difficulties to reach an agreement on the royalty rate, one can ask for a “baseball arbitration”. Inspired by salary negotiations in baseball, this mechanism requires Parties to make an offer they believe is reasonable and fair, to 3 arbitrators. Each Party chooses an arbitrator amongst a defined list (see below) and these 2 arbitrators choose the third. Arbitrators will decide which of the Parties’ royalty proposal constitutes the most reasonable royalty proposition (no “in between” possible), based on the rationale brought by the Parties and their own knowledge of the market. There is no “in between”, and this incentivizes parties to come up with reasonable, solid and well founded proposals on the market value of a patented trait, instead of taking the risk that the proposition of the other party would be chosen. Thereby it is prevented that bigger parties can leverage their stronger market power.

Small and medium-small members can benefit from free legal assistance, but breeders of all sizes possess the necessary business acumen to engage in fair negotiations.

The “baseball arbitration” mechanism, detailed in the Internal Rules (ACLP Internal Rules, p.13), has been designed to ensure a fair process for resolving disputes related to royalty fees, preventing larger parties from leveraging their market power. It is also possible that the “baseball arbitration” system will help solving potential issues of determining royalty fees in case of stacking of traits (combination of several patented traits in a single variety).

The list of arbitrators comprises persons with expertise and experience in the field of the seeds and traits business (including breeding, trait development and/or licensing thereof) in the Territory. After careful review of their CVs, each arbitrator has been nominated by the Board of the ACLP. However, during an arbitration case, a Party can ask for the withdrawal of an arbitrator in case of alleged conflict of interest.

Arbitrators shall also sign the Code of Ethics.

ACLP Arbitrators

Szonja Csörgő

Szonja is Hungarian and holds a degree in Law from ELTE Budapest University, an MA in French and European Law from Panthéon-Assas University (Paris), and an LL.M. in Intellectual Property and Competition Law from the University of Liège in Belgium. Before joining ISF as Intellectual Property and Legal Affairs Manager, Szonja worked for nearly 15 years in Euroseeds first as the Legal and Policy Officer and then as the Director of Intellectual Property and Legal Affairs. Prior to that she worked at the Budapest office of the French law firm Gide Loyrette Nouel and at the European Commission.

Marcel Bruins

Marcel Bruins studied plant breeding and plant pathology at the University of Wageningen in the Netherlands and received a PhD for the research he did in Fusarium resistance in wheat. After that he worked for 10 years at plant breeding company Seminis Vegetables Seeds as manager of Plant Variety Protection. In 2007 he became secretary-general at the International Seed Federation (ISF) and guided the ISF into the modern era of communication, and greatly increased the service to its members. After seven successful years at ISF, he started as an independent consultant in the seed business. He led the secretariat of the International Grain Trade Coalition (IGTC) through a phase of transition and continued working as their scientific advisor. Besides being the editorial director of Seed World Europe magazine, he has been helping profit and non-profit organizations in the seed and grain sector with their questions on the seed industry and their ever-increasing regulations, plant breeding, plant breeders’ rights, intellectual property, trade facilitation and international outreach.

Robin Wood 

Robin Wood has had a lifelong career in Horticulture and Agriculture, and following school he gained a BSc in Horticulture at the University of London (Wye College). Prior to joining Elsoms as the Trials and Brassica Crop Manager in the mid 1980’s, Robin spent time with ADAS as both Stockbridge House and Kirton Experimental Horticulture Stations being involved in field vegetable research. Following a period at Horticulture Research International (HRI), working at both Kirton and Wellesbourne research stations where he focused particularly on vegetable research and technology transfer. Robin returned to Elsoms as Vegetable Seed Director in 2004 and is now Elsoms Deputy Chairman.

Anne van Gastel

With an agricultural and business education Anne started in 1983 with BASF and worked there in several management functions related to agriculture (crop protection, animal nutrition and Plantscience) in Europe and the USA. Good commercial skills and being fluent in English, German, French and Dutch has always been very helpful to obtain a good understanding of the business interest of suppliers and customers. Anne has retired from BASF many years ago and is now involved in various entrepreneurships projects linked to agriculture.

Jean Donnenwirth

John-Pieter Schipper 

After obtaining his MSc from Wageningen University, John-Pieter has occupied various management positions, first in the floriculture business in the Netherlands, before joining a Dutch cooperative as Managing Director. He is currently the CEO of Bejo, a Dutch family company, specialized in breeding, production, processing and sale of premium quality vegetable seeds. John-Pieter is also very much involved in the association world, being a member of the Board of Plantum (the Dutch seed association) and of the ISF (the International Seed Federation).

Arjen van Tunen 

Throughout his career, Arjen has been working at the cross roads between strategic R&D in Plant Sciences & Agro Food Biotechnology and the application thereof for crop improvement. He has experience working in international teams and with international perspectives in many collaborations all over the world, including North & SouthAmercia, India, Japan and China. He has worked from a university (University of Amsterdam, professor Plant Biochemistry) and academic R&D institute (Wageningen University & Research Center) perspective and for the last 15 years from the perspective of an AgroFood Biotech company (CEO at KeyGene until 2023).