Monsanto Wins Roundup Ready Patent Case

In a unanimous ruling delivered Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Monsanto in the landmark case, Bowman v. Monsanto, which centered on the protection of intellectual property.

“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,” said David F. Snively, general counsel of Monsanto. “The ruling also provides assurance to all inventors throughout the public and private sectors that they can and should continue to invest in innovation that feeds people, improves lives, creates jobs, and allows America to keep its competitive edge.”

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The legal battle began when Monsanto sued Indiana farmer Vernon Hugh Bowman in 2007. In 1999, Bowman had bought seed for his second seasonal planting from a grain elevator. He and others sold their transgenic crops to that same elevator, which sold the soybeans as commodities, not as seeds for planting, according to court documents. Bowman told Monsanto of his activities: that he was replanting the harvest, supplementing plantings with more soybeans he bought at the elevator. Monsanto claimed patent infringement as he used the seeds without a license from Monsanto, while Bowman claimed the patent was exhausted on the first sale of seed.

Monsanto won the case in the district court in 2009, a verdict which the Federal Circuit upheld. Bowman appealed, and the U.S. affirmed the verdict on May 13.

The Court’s ruling comes at a time when the role of technology and innovation in meeting the demands of our world has never been more important, Monsanto said. A wide range of independent organizations and individuals expressed support for the preservation of intellectual property rights, including: the American Soybean Association, the American Seed Trade Association, the Biotechnology Industry Organization, a coalition of leading universities (including the University of California, Duke University, Emory University, the University of Illinois, Iowa State, the University of Kansas, Kansas State, the University of Missouri-Columbia, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and other university organizations such as the Association of American Universities, the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, and the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities), the Intellectual Property Owners Association, the Washington Legal Foundation, and the Business Software Alliance (whose members include Apple and Microsoft).