Monsanto wins lawsuit against Indiana soybean farmer after court finds that company's patent applies to seeds distributed through mix of undifferentiated 'commodity' seeds; appeals court upholds damage award of US$84,456

LOS ANGELES , September 26, 2011 () – Monsanto Co. has succeeded in another lawsuit filed against a U.S. farmer after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington upheld a lower court decision to protect the company’s interests even when patented seeds are distributed through a mix of undifferentiated “commodity” seeds, Reuters reported Sept. 21.

The company sued Indiana soybean farmer Vernon Bowman in 2007 accusing him of patent infringement for sowing and saving Monsanto’s genetically-modified Roundup Ready seeds despite Bowman saying he purchased the seeds at local grain elevator as part of a commodity seed mix.

Monsanto restricts the use of Roundup Ready seeds to a single commercial crop season.

The court determined that Monsanto’s technology agreements that forbid farmers from selling the progeny of Roundup Ready seeds do not cover second-generation seed.

The company allows growers to sell their second-generation seed to grain elevators as a commodity and does not restrict grain elevators’ sale of the seed, according to the court, but that allowance does not authorize growers to duplicate Monsanto’s patented technology by sowing it to create “newly infringing genetic material, seeds, and plants,” the court ruled.

Bowman argued that the patent rights of Monsanto were expired for the Roundup Ready soybean seeds that are found in grain elevators as undifferentiated seed, but the courts determined that infringement of the company’s patent occurred and affirmed the lower court’s damage award of US$84,456.

The primary source of this article is Reuters, London, England, on Sept. 21, 2011.

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