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May 6, 2016
The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Circuit this week granted NPPC’s motion to intervene in the lawsuit brought by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) against the U.S. Department of Agriculture over the sale of the Pork. The Other White Meat trademarks.
The win for NPPC comes two weeks after USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) decided that, based on its review of the value of four trademarks the National Pork Board purchased from NPPC, it would continue to approve the Pork Board’s annual payments for the trademarks.
NPPC sold the trademarks to the Pork Board in 2006 for about $35 million. NPPC financed the purchase over 20 years, making the Pork Board’s annual payment $3 million. The sale was an arms-length transaction with a lengthy negotiation in which both parties were represented by legal counsel, and USDA, which oversees the federal Pork Checkoff program administered by the Pork Board, approved the purchase.
In 2012, HSUS, a lone Iowa farmer and the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement filed suit against USDA, seeking to have the sale rescinded. The U.S. District Court dismissed the suit for lack of standing, but a federal appeals court in August 2015 reinstated it. Subsequently, USDA agreed to review the purchase, including conducting a valuation of the trademarks. In a frequently-asked-questions document on its website, AMS said the value of the four trademarks is between $113 million and $132 million. HSUS is pressing forward with its lawsuit despite the trademarks today being worth nearly four times what NPPC sold them for in 2006. The animal-rights group claimed they only are worth between about $2.6 million and $17.6 million.
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