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Supreme Court appears to side with Monsanto in seed patent case

Justices question farmer’s argument that patent exhaustion allows him to use the seeds

It looks like another big win for the big guy. Agricultural giant Monsanto appeared to steamroll elderly Indiana farmer Vernon Hugh Bowman in oral arguments before the Supreme Court on Tuesday, in a case that will decide if it is infringement to use Monsanto’s patented “Roundup Ready” herbicide-resistant soybean seeds without paying the company a fee.

Normally farmers are required to buy new seeds from Monsanto every year—they can’t just save the seeds from the crop and replant them. Bowman, thinking he’d found a loophole in the contract, instead purchased a mix of seeds from a grain elevator, which included some Roundup Ready seeds. Monsanto sued him for infringement.

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