Cosmic Crisp

The Washington State University board of regents has given the go-ahead to funding for marketing the new Cosmic Crisp apple variety.

PULLMAN, Wash. — A Yakima company, helping Washington State University with commercialization of WSU’s Cosmic Crisp apple, has withdrawn its temporary restraining order preventing WSU from sharing marketing information about the apple with a freelance journalist.

Lynnell Brandt, president of Proprietary Variety Management, said he did so to clear the way for WSU regents to consider authorizing funding for Cosmic Crisp promotions. Regents had tabled the request pending the outcome of the litigation. The apple will debut in grocery stores this fall.

Now authorization for WSU President Kirk Schulz to spend up to $10.1 million from WSU royalties off Cosmic Crisp trees and fruit for five years of promotions will be on the Jan. 25 regents’ agenda, said Albert Tsui, WSU business development specialist and patent attorney.

Because funding is based on variable royalty income over multiple years, WSU will bear the initial cost and PVM will reimburse its 30 percent share to WSU later, Tsui said.

It’s a cash flow issue to launch the marketing campaign to build consumer demand and brand recognition, he said.

A $1 royalty per tree sold is split 65 percent to WSU and 35 percent to PVM and Northwest Nursery Improvement Institute. A 4.75 percent royalty is collected on every box of apples sold at $20 or more with 75 percent going to WSU and 25 percent to PVM.

Scot Hulbert, interim associate dean for research and interim director of the Agricultural Research Center, said he doesn’t anticipate any problems with the request and that regents are excited about Cosmic Crisp.

PVM obtained the temporary restraining order Nov. 9 in Whitman County Superior Court, blocking WSU from releasing marketing and financial information PVM said was proprietary. The information was requested under the state’s Public Record Act by M. Sharon Baker, an Ephrata freelance journalist.

A hearing for a judge to consider an injunction was set for Dec. 10 and postponed to Jan. 16. But a court commissioner dismissed the case Dec. 21 at the request of PVM.

Brandt said he was able to get contracts in place with vendors regarding the commercial launch of Cosmic Crisp this fall that alleviated most of his concerns about release of the information.

“If the information had been put out in advance, people could have intervened into that or compromised what we intended to do,” Brandt said. “Not all of my concerns are alleviated but there is a limit because of the university and state law as to what can be held. I don’t like it. It still puts us at a competitive disadvantage and I will work to see what can be changed.”

Brandt said he was able to ensure the material was released in the format and context he wanted.

Baker said she received the material during the week of Christmas.

Central Washington field reporter

Recommended for you