We’ve been following this story and case for quite some time, and now a decision has been handed down from the U.S. Supreme Court which protects a company’s most important asset; its technology.
“Bowman decided that for this crop, he didn’t want to pay top dollar for Monsanto’s seed. ‘What I wanted was a cheap source of seed,’ he says. Starting in 1999, he bought some ordinary soybeans from a small grain elevator where local farmers drop off their harvest. … He knew that these beans probably had Monsanto’s Roundup Ready gene in them, because that’s mainly what farmers plant these days. But Bowman didn’t think Monsanto controlled these soybeans anymore, and in any case, he was getting a motley collection of different varieties, hardly a threat to Monsanto’s seed business. ‘I couldn’t imagine that they’d give a rat’s behind,’ ” he said. Quote and Photo Credit: Dan Charles/NPR
In this case, Monsanto’s patent covered soybean seeds resistant to Monsanto’s RoundUp weed-killer. The Supreme Court ruled that an Indiana farmer violated Monsanto’s patent rights by growing beans from second-generation seeds, without purchasing new seeds from the company.
After the high court’s decision, Monsanto’s attorney David F. Snively, Monsanto’s top lawyer said “The court’s ruling today ensures that longstanding principles of patent law apply to breakthrough 21st century technologies that are central to meeting the growing demands of our planet and its people.”
Technology developers and researchers have been following this case very closely in the hope of obtaining general guidance on whether patent rights can still be asserted against downstream users of a patented item once sold. Although the Court answered in the positive, the Court limited its decision to the particular facts of this case alone.
At Cook Alex, we firmly believe in the principles upon which Congress first established the U.S. patent system in 1790, and as reinforced in 1858 by Abraham Lincoln, who said that patents “added the fuel of interest to the fire of genius, in the discovery and production of new and useful things.” In the case of Monsanto’s soybean patent, the ability to receive compensation each growing cycle gave Monsanto the incentive to invest in developing a technology that increases crop yields and feeds more people.
Our clients look to us to write and secure strong patent protection for their company’s most valuable technological assets. It’s encouraging to see that the Supreme Court still agrees with maintaining the strength of our country’s pioneering patents.
[white_space height=”4px”]Read the full story by Jesse J. Holland of the Associated Press here.
Read the story “Farmer’s Fight With Monsanto Reaches The Supreme Court” by Dan Charles of NPR here.