Two separate court actions have been taken during the past year after the active ingredient of BASF’s widely used cereal fungicide, epoxiconazole, was found being illegally sold in the UK in breach of BASF’s patent last spring.

“It was brought to our attention that very cheap epoxiconazole was being sold as Opus,” BASF marketing manager Jochen Boeringer said.

Chemical analysis of one of the products, Me2 Puddy, imported and sold by Me2 Crop Protection, found there were differences in both the active ingredient and the formulation compared with Opus, contravening BASF’s patent.

After securing permanent injunctions against those involved settlements were agreed with Me2 Crop Protection and two related companies.

The settlement required each not to import products that infringed BASF patents in the future.

BASF had previously taken legal action against Me2 Crop Protection in 2004 for importing and selling the oilseed rape herbicide metazachlor under the name of Me2 Booty.

That case was also settled.

In a separate action a similar settlement had been reached with Murray and Pamela Kent, Proceura and two other individuals for selling another product containing epoxiconazole, called Soprano.

“Not only did this product infringe BASF’s patent, it did not even have PSD approval,” Mr Boeringer said.

Syngenta has reported five or six possible transgressions to PSD, according to the firm’s head of registration Lorna Spicer, while PSD has successfully prosecuted one distributor in October 2005 for illegal imports, with a further three cases under investigation.