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Monsanto seed patent case headed to Supreme Court

An Indiana farmer is appealing a lower court’s ruling that he infringed the company’s patents by replanting seeds without paying a “technology fee”

Monsanto Corp. is no stranger to the legal system. But the agriculture giant is now headed to the highest courtroom in the land, after the Supreme Court announced earlier this month that it will review a case involving the company’s patented seeds.

The plaintiff in the case is Vernon Hugh Bowman, an Indiana farmer who regularly purchased Monsanto’s pesticide-resistant soybean seeds for the spring/early summer growing season. After harvesting his first crop, however, Bowman occasionally tried to plant seeds for a second harvest. In an attempt to save money, Bowman often bought cheap seeds from grain elevators and fellow farmers, or simply used seeds that he had saved from previous seasons.

Unfortunately for Bowman, 94 percent of the soybeans grown in Indiana come from Monsanto seeds. And because Bowman neglected to pay the company a separate “technology fee” for planting these crops, Monsanto sued, winning $84,000 from the farmer last September.

Bowman has appealed the case all the way to the Supreme Court, arguing that “patent exhaustion delimits rights of patent holders by eliminating the right to control or prohibit use of the invention after an authorized sale.” According to the farmer, the Federal Circuit erred by refusing to find exhaustion after the seeds had already been used for their original purpose.

Read more at NPR.

For more InsideCounsel coverage of Monsanto, see:

Jury awards Monsanto $1 billion in patent infringement case against DuPont

Monsanto accuses DuPont of copying seed technology

Organic growers appeal case against Monsanto

Federal judge dismisses farmers’ class action suit against Monsanto

Monsanto poisoned French farmer, court rules

Alanna Byrne

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