Idaho Gets Favorable Ruling

Published online: Feb 08, 2001
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The Associated Press reported that a New York appellate court has upheld a judge's ruling that the Idaho Potato Commission is a state agency and cannot be sued without its own consent in a federal court.

The Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the decision of District Judge Charles Brieant, dismissing cases brought by Hapco Farms Inc., and G and T Terminal Packing Inc. against the Commission.

The state asserted that the words "Idaho" and " Idaho potatoes" are protected trademarks, recognized by consumers worldwide.

New York-based Hapco Farms had asked that the federally registered certification and trademarks the Commission holds be cancelled as violating federal antitrust laws.

The judge concluded the Commission is an Idaho agency and entitled to sovereign immunity under the 11th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Commission Chairman Dennis Herbold said, "We have always taken the position that the IPC is a state agency, and therefore cannot be sued in federal court without its consent. The IPC can now move forward to address the remaining portions of this litigation against these parties."

Hapco Farms is being sued by the Commission for misuse of the Idaho certification and trademarks. A judge has already ruled in the Commission's favor in the matter.