PepsiCo Inc said Thursday that it will withdraw its lawsuit against potato farmers in Gujarat that the company had accused of infringing its patent, a PepsiCo India spokesman said.
“After discussions with the government, the company has agreed to withdraw the cases against the farmers,” said the spokesman.
“The company remains deeply committed to the thousands of farmers we work with across the country and towards ensuring adoption of best farming practices,” its spokesperson added.
On Wednesday, Gujarat deputy chief minister Nitin Patel had said that the state government was working on an out-of-court settlement of cases filed by PepsiCo against the farmers.
The company had sued nine farmers in Gujarat for alleged intellectual property “rights infringement” on grounds that they “illegally” grew its registered potato variety used to make Lay’s chips.
PepsiCo had sought damages of Rs 1.05 crore from each of them. Over 190 activists had come out in support of the farmers facing lawsuits and requested the union government to ask PepsiCo India to withdraw its “false” cases against them.
“The government should put into place clear mechanisms to avoid a repetition of this episode in future,” the Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture (ASHA) said in a statement.
PepsiCo’s decision to sue the farmers received huge backlash on social media. It went up a reach of 14 million on Twitter, with 18 million impressions and over 5,000 conversations in the top five cities of Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Pune and Bengaluru, according to a social media tracking agency.
The #BoycottPepsi hashtag on Twitter achieved a reach of 14 million, 39 million impressions and 10,800 conversations, it added. Another hashtag #WeDontWantThisJunk gathered Twitter buzz of 86,000, and 182,000 impressions.