Monday, October 8, 2012

Indiana Farmer Takes Monsanto to Supreme Court

The United States Supreme Court will hear one Indiana farmer's claim that he is entitled to re-plant Roundup Ready (RR) soybeans that contain Monsanto's patented glyphosate resistant technology.  The Court granted the farmer's petition for appeal (or "certiorari") in Bowman v. Monsanto Company on October 5, 2012.

The farmer, Vernon Bowman, purchased RR soybeans from Pioneer Hi-Bred, which licenses the glyphosate resistant technology under patents from Monsanto.
 When purchasing the seed, Bowman signed a
"Technology Licensing Agreement" where he promised would not re-plant any future generations of RR soybeans from the harvest seed.  Bowman planted the RR soybeans for his early season soybeans.  

Later in the growing season, Bowman also purchased some "commodity" soybeans from his local elevator.  He purchased commodity seeds to avoid the costs of purchasing the more expensive RR soybeans from Pioneer or another seed company, since late season planting is riskier.  After planting these commodity soybeans, Bowman determined that these beans too were glyphosate resistant--they were RR soybeans harvested the year before and sold to the elevator.  After Monsanto determined that Bowman had planted more RR soybeans than he had purchased from Pioneer, it brought suit.  The Southern District of Indiana federal court held that Bowman had infringed on Monsanto's patents.  It awarded Monsanto $84,456.20 in damages.  The Federal Circuit Court of appeals affirmed.

At issue before the Supreme Court will be whether Monsanto's patents are "extinguished" once RR soybeans are harvested and delivered to market.  Do the RR patents apply to just licensed, purchased seed bags or to all subsequent generations of soybeans produced by such seed?  The Supreme Court will let us know when it decides this case.

Read the Indiana Lawyer's synopsis of this case here.

January 15, 2013 Update:  The Supreme Court will hear oral argument on this case on February 19, 2013.  

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.