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Supreme Court To Decide If Monsanto GMO Patents Are Valid 308

Posted by timothy
from the he-said-kill-it-before-it-grows dept.
tomhath writes with this exerpt from a Reuters story: "The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Friday to hear an Indiana farmer's appeal that challenges the scope of Monsanto Co.'s patent rights on its Roundup Ready seeds. Mr. Bowman bought and planted 'commodity seeds' from a grain elevator. Those soybean seeds were a mix and included some that contained Monsanto's technology. The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case over the objections of the Obama administration, which had urged the justices to leave the lower court rulings in place."
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Supreme Court To Decide If Monsanto GMO Patents Are Valid

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 08, 2012 @02:01AM (#41581805)

    Wait for the food monopolies... oh wait, they're already here.

    • by Taco Cowboy (5327) on Monday October 08, 2012 @05:45AM (#41582681) Journal

      ... The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case over the objections of the Obama administration ...

      Why is the Obama administration trying so hard to stop the Supreme Court from hearing this case?
       
      Can someone fill me in, please?
       
       
       

       
       
       

      • by andydread (758754) on Monday October 08, 2012 @07:56AM (#41583459)
        Politicians are generally Ignorant of the inner workings of giant multinationals. Politicians rely on "inudstry Experts" for advice. These "Industry Experts" must have experience in the relevant industry. Michael R Taylor is the head of the FDA I believe. He was also supposedly a former Monsanto executive. Given these facts I would assume that Mr Taylor would not want to see the company he had ties to losing their shirt in this deal and may be pushing for this case to go away. While the good news is that this Supreme Court has not be friendly to patents on natural processes, The bad news? Both Justices Clarence Thomas and Elena Kagan had ties to Monsanto in the litigation business. Whether they sued farmers for patented seed while working as litigators for Monsanto is beyond me. Maybe someone on /. can dig up some history on the work CT and EK did for Monsanto.
        • by jenningsthecat (1525947) on Monday October 08, 2012 @09:11AM (#41584013)

          Maybe someone on /. can dig up some history on the work CT and EK did for Monsanto.

          According to the Wikipedia entry on Monsanto, Clarence Thomas worked for the company in the 70's. I can't find any specific info on what he did for them. My guess is that Thomas would defend his refusal to recuse himself by pointing to the 30-years-plus that have lapsed since he was employed there.

          Elena Kagan was Solicitor General in 2009 when, according to Truthout.org, "the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the previous ruling and placed a nationwide ban on Monsanto's Roundup Ready alfalfa." Again from Truthout.org, "In March 2010, a month before the Supreme Court heard arguments in the case, the solicitor general's office released a legal brief despite the fact that the US government was not a defendant in the case." This brief argued that "The judgment of the court of appeals should be reversed, and the case should be remanded with instructions to vacate the permanent injunction entered by the district court." However, as far as I can determine, Kagan never worked for Monsanto.

          Regarding Monsanto's influence in the Obama administration, Naturalnews.com has the following to say: "At least three former Monsanto execs hold high positions of power in the Obama administration. Michael Taylor, senior adviser to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), used to be vice president of Monsanto. Islam Siddiqui, former vice president of the Monsanto-funded lobbying group CropLife, is now a negotiator for the U.S. Trade Representative on agriculture. And Roger Beachy, the director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, is former director of a plant science center funded by Monsanto.

          To me, the only surprise here is that people are surprised by all of this - it's just business as usual. When citizens allow their politicians to spend unlimited amounts of money on election campaigns, this kind of rampant abuse is inevitable.

          • by DragonWriter (970822) on Monday October 08, 2012 @10:07AM (#41584665)

            Elena Kagan was Solicitor General in 2009 when, according to Truthout.org, "the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the previous ruling and placed a nationwide ban on Monsanto's Roundup Ready alfalfa." Again from Truthout.org, "In March 2010, a month before the Supreme Court heard arguments in the case, the solicitor general's office released a legal brief despite the fact that the US government was not a defendant in the case." This brief argued that "The judgment of the court of appeals should be reversed, and the case should be remanded with instructions to vacate the permanent injunction entered by the district court." However, as far as I can determine, Kagan never worked for Monsanto.

            Its also worth noting that the Truthout.org claim that the Solicitor General "released a legal brief despite the fact that the US government was not a defendant in the case" is a bald-faced lie. The US government was the original defendant in the case at the trial level, which was a challenge that various government entities, particularly the US Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, had violated the federal law in the process of approving Round-Up Ready Alfalfa without an Environmental Impact Statement. Monsanto was not an original party to the case at trial level, but was an intervenor at trial after the decision and in the remedy phase. The U.S. briefs at the Supreme Court were not non-party amicus briefs, they were briefs "for federal respondents". Documents relating to the case are available at SCOTUSblog [scotusblog.com].

  • by mmell (832646) <mike.mell@gmail.com> on Monday October 08, 2012 @02:05AM (#41581819)
    After all, the manufacture, distribution and use of Monsanto's GM product is presumably regulated by some governmental agency? I tend to think that FDA is involved, at least? Monsanto's seed got onto that farmer's land without his knowledge or consent, and the potential damages he could suffer as a result of Monsanto's technology being inadvertently deployed on his land are demonstrably quite large. The ultimate fault is Monsanto's, for failing to adequately control their genetically modified produce's growth and proliferation.
    • by terminal.dk (102718) on Monday October 08, 2012 @02:14AM (#41581857) Homepage

      He can probably not sell his seeds to Europe, we do not like genetically modified foods here. We let the americans be the Guinea Pigs of their own products.
      It seems like the US Government has the same slogan like "The Body Shop" when it comes to food: "Product not tested on animals". There is enough humans to test on.

      • by shentino (1139071)

        It's sad that we're only the guinea pigs because Monsanto got a monopoly and is shoving the alternatives off the menu.

        So our only choice in many cases is to eat Monsanto crap or eat nothing at all.

        Monsanto backed us into a corner and not many of us are willing to starve to death to prove a point.

        Sure, people who cornered the water market in the dry days of the wild west eventually saw their empires topple, in the interim many people paid dearly for to avoid losing something even more valuable.

        Like with exto

    • by NettiWelho (1147351) on Monday October 08, 2012 @02:20AM (#41581875)
      Countersueing a supercorporation takes a lot of resources, especially when you are already tied up in court.
      • by shentino (1139071)

        He is in for a huge fight indeed. By taking it to the supremes he has galvanized the elite into scrambling to save their gravy train from being derailed.

        More companies than just Monsanto are going to fight this tooth and nail because they have a lot to lose if the supremes rule in the farmer's favor.

        The elite will see this as an act of war.

    • by erroneus (253617) on Monday October 08, 2012 @02:43AM (#41581969) Homepage

      Isn't that like blaming the copyright holder for not controlling distribution?

      FWIW, I am on the side of the people/farmers on this. There are too many problems with this genetically modified seed for it to be allowed to continue. There is a farmer's tradition of process and of course there is nature. But on top of that, breeding plants which create their own insecticide? Isn't it ALREADY creating super-bugs?

      I would like to read what the Obama administration has to say about it and to hear what Romney would have to say about the issue as well. Other candidates would be great to hear from also, but the electoral colleges will not vote for anyone but the approved candidates selected from one of two parties.

      • by mindwhip (894744) on Monday October 08, 2012 @04:02AM (#41582249)

        Isn't that like blaming the copyright holder for not controlling distribution?

        It's more like a record company breaking into your home and replacing half your CDs with their own, then demanding 100x the value of the CD from everyone that complained to the police about the break in.

        • by jkflying (2190798) on Monday October 08, 2012 @04:13AM (#41582291)

          I think a better analogy would be for the record company to write viruses that automatically rewrite all of your music files with illegal versions, and then suing you for owning and listening to illegal versions of your music.

      • by Dachannien (617929) on Monday October 08, 2012 @05:52AM (#41582725)

        breeding plants which create their own insecticide?

        The seed in question here doesn't produce its own pesticide. Roundup Ready plants are engineered to be resistant to the herbicide Roundup.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 08, 2012 @02:53AM (#41582019)

      I agree with you in principle, but it's probably a much harder legal argument.

      Hey would have to establish all the elements of the tort of negligence against Monsanto
      1) That Monsanto owed him a duty of care
      2) That Monsanto breached that duty of care
      3) That that breach was the proximate cause of harm
      4) That he suffered actual harm

      1&2 would be pretty dicey to claim since Monsanto has no contractual relationship with him, nor were they involved in how his fields were contaminated. There's really no precedent for this kind of thing since there has never been IP that reproduced of it's own will...

      The effect of him winning would pretty much destroy Monsanto's GMO business model though. Then everyone could just claim that their fields were "contaminated" and therefore dont have to pay royalties.

      I'm glad that the supremes are hearing it though... this really needs to be established.

      • 'Every rapist could simply claim the victim consented'.
        (And yes, the analogy is a bit silly)
        However, intentionally planting it would remain a crime, as would not taking reasonable care.
        Does it make the investigation more awkward - certainly.

      • The effect of him winning would pretty much destroy Monsanto's GMO business model though.

        Hope springs eternal.

    • by citizenr (871508)

      After all, the manufacture, distribution and use of Monsanto's GM product is presumably regulated by some governmental agency? I tend to think that FDA is involved, at least?

      I seem to remember FDA was directly prohibited from doing any research on gen. modified crops immediately after one of ex monsanto execs was granted government position.

    • by Warhawke (1312723) on Monday October 08, 2012 @04:40AM (#41582379)

      Incorrect. Monsanto seed did NOT drift onto Bowman's land without his knowledge or consent. Thus far, no such case has been litigated where seed drift or cross-pollination has occurred. Obviously that is a very big question that will come out of this ruling, should the court find for Monsanto, as it will arguably put the onus of burden on farmers to test for and destroy infringing crops caused by cross pollination. That issue, however, is not in debate here.

      Bowman realized that a staggering percentage of soybean seeds on the commodity market were Roundup-Ready GM seeds. Normally a farmer has to sign a contract that he will not replant any additional seeds and will buy future generations of seeds from Monsanto. Replanting seeds for these farmers has not been considered a patent infringement but instead a contract violation. The patent infringement idea was unprecedented until this case. Bowman, who had not signed a Monsanto contract, simply decided to buy contract-free seeds on the commodity market, as Monsanto-contracted growers can sell the seeds they are not allowed to replant for general purposes such as food production. Bowman had the novel idea to take these seeds and plant them, spray the seeds with Roundup (thus killing off all the non-Roundup-Ready seeds), and have contract-free Roundup-ready seeds that he could replant at will. Monsanto, which monitors the purchase of Roundup to Roundup-ready seeds under contract, determined Bowman had purchased enough Roundup to be running an un-contracted operation. Unable to ping him on the contract issue, they requested him to stop. He refused, and they sued under the patent infringement theory.

      The question that will be debated here is whether or not subsequent generations of Roundup-Ready crops, by the act of growing them, independently constitute patent infringement. Normally for infringement to occur there has to be some performative action. Monsanto is arguing (and the lower court agreed) that the performative act of planting the seeds in the first place is sufficient to transfer infringement to subsequent generations, and therefore the plants can essentially infringe upon each new growth without Bowman's performative action on subsequent growings.

      It may seem pretty dumb, but it has the potential to majorly impact the food industry. If the court finds for Monsanto, the "auto-infringing crop" theory would make accidental infringers of any farmer who encountered cross-pollination or seed drift. Although no such cross-pollination has been successfully argued -- in all cases where farmers have brought this defense, it has been very well proven that they were lying through their teeth and had planted Monsanto crops in violation of their contract. Conversely, if the court finds for Bowman, this would in effect nullify Monsanto's patent protection on their seeds, as no farmer would buy from the developer, bound to a contract, where they could just go out and buy commodity seed at a fraction of the cost.

      I've researched GMO patent intensively, written articles, and have followed the case for a while now. I think the one constant among GMO patent cases is that both sides -- Monsanto and farmers alike -- have done nothing but provide a tremendous amount of misinformation about the other side. No party line can be trusted. Monsanto argues that they're just trying to make a living and don't gouge anyone, being a humble food producer. Farmers argue that they're being put upon by the big corporate food monopoly and haven't done anything inappropriate other than try to grow organic foods. Both sides are lying and are trying to wage war to maximize their profits. Being as rabidly anti-DRM as we are, I suppose Slashdot readers will support the farmers. Either way, this issue is pretty big for determining whether the judiciary is embracing the pendulum swinging back to more restrictive patents or is continuing the trend of expansive patent protections.

      Also worth noting, Monsanto's patents on Roundup-Ready soybeans are set to expire in the next few years, IIRC. The question is going to be entirely academic and legal and will likely have no effect on Roundup-ready crops at all after the patent expires.

      • by ElitistWhiner (79961) on Monday October 08, 2012 @05:20AM (#41582551) Journal

        2nd generation of seed non-conforming under patent aside, statutes under the commerce clause are what is at stake in this case.

        Ruling for the patent holder enforces a restraint of trade eliminating free market economy in agri-business
        AND
        Upholding the patent establishes a ' fiat currency' whose store of value ( seed) and medium of exchange are enforced by law. SCOTUS
        Ruling in favor of Monsanto will sanction a monopoly

        • by Warhawke (1312723) on Monday October 08, 2012 @05:30AM (#41582601)
          Agreed. But that is exactly what a patent enforces... a monopoly for a limited time. SCOTUS will not overturn on the monopoly issue alone, as Article I Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution is explicitly clear on acknowledging a monopoly. It's likely gone too far in application, but patents are designed to restrain free market trade and to allow for a "currency" of sorts as upheld by law as well as to sanction a monopoly. The question, statutorily, is whether IP protection has gone too far and now enforces a monopoly no longer successful in promoting "useful arts and sciences" by rewarding innovation. Unfortunately, SCOTUS has been extremely shy of the issue, especially in copyrights (see Eldred v. Ashcroft). They will likely rule on the more narrow issue of subsequent generation/self-replicating infringement.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        It's fallacious reasoning to put the company Monsanto at one side of the story and 'the farmers', on the other side. Specifically, it's called a hasty generalization. There are many stories about farmers running into problems with Monsanto and you can't just claim that all those farmers are lying and just want to max profit. Talk to some Indian farmers for example, o wait, thousands of them have committed suicide after they got conned by Monsanto.

        http://www.chrgj.org/publications/docs/every30min.pdf

        http://n

      • by trout007 (975317)

        Bowman should win and this is exactly how intellectual property will work when patents and copyrights are eliminated. Contracts will rule and people that are not parties to the contract cannot be held responsible.

        Take a DVD as an example. The company selling the DVD could make it a part of the contract to buy the DVD that the person wont copy it. But if someone copies the DVD and it becomes available no third party to the coping could be responsible. This puts the onerous of protecting the distribution of t

      • So if much of the commodity seed out there is now roundup-ready, farmers may have an increasingly difficult time buying non-modified seed. That means Monsanto would have poisoned the well of the competition: natural seeds. There are two monopolistic behaviors here: protecting your inventive production method and choking out competing production methods through non-market actions. Patents are only meant to support the former, not the latter. Fostering market competition between production methods (i.e. G
    • by shentino (1139071)

      The FDA's only involvement is in looking the other way after being paid off.

      As for damages, Monsanto most likely will be off the hook because it was their client, and not Monsanto directly, that let the seeds loose.

      And unfortunately as brain dead as the legal system is he will probably still be held liable for patent infringement.

  • Monsanto is wrong (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 08, 2012 @02:10AM (#41581833)

    They contaminated his crops with their seed. They owe him compensation.

    When GM labelling comes in in California, he will have to label his crop as GM contaminated, and that will reduce his profits. He did not seek that contamination, Monsanto were lax about cross contamination.

    It may be true that he grew more as a result, but that does not mitigate the damage they did. How is he supposed to know that the seeds he buys and plants are contaminated with GM seeds? In effect they're burdening ever farmer with a requirement to detect their GM crop contamination, as necessary for the GM labeling requirements.

    Monsanto polluted the seed pool, and others should not pay for their pollution.

    • Whose fault is it that Monsanto can pull off these kind of shenanigans in court?
      • by shentino (1139071)

        That of our congress critters for kissing Monsanto's ass and passing the stupid laws in the first place.

    • Didn't read TFA, did you?

      They claim he's growing more beans than his seed purchase could have produced. Therefore he must have added the Roundup ones separately.

      He says it was part of this mix. In that case, it would be the fault of whoever sold him the seed, logically, though legally is another matter.

      TFA is confusing, but it seems he's also claiming an earlier court ruled that using the seeds to grow and produce new seeds, that the new seeds (used for yet another generation rather than sale) were infrin

  • Since God used the first crop of seeds to produce new plants, I think the whole patent issue boils down to this infrigement made by nature or God. Since Monsanto can't sure nature, they will have go for the big man himself.
    I think Monsanto needs to sue God or in his absence his nearest representative, the Pope, for making illegal copies of their seed.

  • SC Blog. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Ostracus (1354233) on Monday October 08, 2012 @02:21AM (#41581885) Journal

    SCOTUSblog [scotusblog.com]

  • by lannocc (568669) <shawn@lannocc.com> on Monday October 08, 2012 @02:39AM (#41581955) Homepage
    It seems earlier court decisions suggested that Monsanto had no rights after it made an initial sale. If this gets overturned then imagine the strengthening this might give to the First Sale Doctrine!
  • by blind biker (1066130) on Monday October 08, 2012 @02:41AM (#41581963) Journal

    I am not surprised that a reactionary, right-wing administration would stand behind Monsanto.

    Luckily, the elections are behind the corner and things are about to ch.. oh, shit!

  • First of all, to get this out of the way-Monsanto is obviously quite amoral, and their business practices are largely indefensible. However, it's worth discussing the actual issues at hand here.

    The legal issues are basically:
    1. Is it infringement when contaminated seeds are planted unintentionally and they contain patented genetic engineering. I would say no, because my understanding is that the tort of infringement must be willful.(IANAL)
    2.Does the right of first sale allow seeds to be reproduced to create

  • Monsanto is clearly bully here, because in any scenario, farmer didn't violate the contract, so they just showing their power.

    However, this is more like contract dispute. Seems like company understood that they chances of going after farmer contract is close to null, so they decided to punish him by betting on their golden egg. That neatly opened unforseen posibility to challange seed (and any DNA, nano, etc.) patents in SCOTUS. Farmer didn't care about patents, he just wants not to pay for stuff he didn't

  • by dgharmon (2564621) on Monday October 08, 2012 @03:48AM (#41582197) Homepage
    The short version: Don't own his own seeds and once you buy Monsanto seeds they own your business ..

    "A federal appeals court found that soybean farmer Vernon Bowman infringed on Monsanto patents when he planted second-generation soybeans [commondreams.org] that were the product of seeds he had purchased from Monsanto"
  • Those soybean seeds were a mix and included some that contained Monsanto's technology.

    In much the same way that infants who survive a premature birth “contain” Dr. Tarnier’s incubator technology.

  • by Okian Warrior (537106) on Monday October 08, 2012 @03:51AM (#41582221) Homepage Journal

    IANAL, but in this case that doesn't matter.

    Lots of people here will argue the merits one way or another, adding ever more subtle points to a cauldron of legal opinion that attempts to guess the outcome... ...and it doesn't matter one whit.

    Regardless of the law, the lower court decision cannot be allowed to stand simply as a matter of practicality. If it does, Monsanto stands to control virtually all farmland in America and put all farmers out of business. Monsanto would find itself in the position of controlling all food prices and dictating whatever terms it likes in the manner of process and production.

    The simplest solution is to rule that, absent any contractual obligations, the patent holder's rights are exhausted after first sale of self-reproducing physical objects. For anything beyond this, the rules of contract law would apply. Farmers would be bound by whatever contracts they enter into with Monsanto.

    Monsanto's mistake was in freely allowing the sale of the harvested seed. A second-generation-seed purchaser is under no contractual obligation to Monsanto because they didn't enter into a contract. If Monsanto wants this to happen differently, then they need to word the original contract in such a way that this can't happen - so that the original purchaser can't sell seed for replanting, for instance.

    Monsanto winning this would be really, *really* bad.

    • by erroneus (253617)

      Monsanto's history of winning is really, really bad.

      Monsanto needs to go away. Not only are they simply predatory, they are actually dangerous to the environment. Let's pretend that insecticide plants will never ever harm humans in any quantity. Let's just talk about the surviving insects who are developing immunity to the chemicals and becoming super-bugs. Will Monsanto be held liable for this creation of theirs?

      • by chihowa (366380) on Monday October 08, 2012 @09:51AM (#41584469)

        Let's just talk about the surviving insects who are developing immunity to the chemicals and becoming super-bugs. Will Monsanto be held liable for this creation of theirs?

        Roundup is a broadleaf herbicide, not an insecticide. Also, the allegedly infringing GMO plants don't produce Roundup or any other pesticide, they only allow Roundup to be applied to them without killing the plants. In order for them to behave differently than his other plants, the farmer would have to douse his crops in Roundup (which he did).

        Can we try to at least get the facts straight before we start going off into left field with our interpretations?

    • by cashdot (954651)
      It is again a problem with the US patent law.

      In Europe, if you have a valid patent for a genetically engineered product, this patent only covers the result of the genetical engineering (i.e. what comes out of the lab), not the yield that is the result of natural self replication.

      So even if someone deliberately sells "Monsanto seed", it is not a patent violation, provided that the seed is not produced by the genetical engineering process wich is covered by the patent.

  • That does not mean, they should not be invalidated, and the practice banned.

  • by gaelfx (1111115) on Monday October 08, 2012 @05:03AM (#41582493)

    I didn't RTFA, but I'm assuming that the summary is correct where it says the Obama administration was opposed to SCOTUS hearing the case. What reason did they give for the case not being heard?

  • by HangingChad (677530) on Monday October 08, 2012 @05:49AM (#41582699) Homepage

    Clarence Thomas used to work for Monsanto as an attorney in the 70s. I'm going to guess that a hypocrite won't really care about a little thing like conflict of interest.

    It didn't stop him from ruling on the Affordable Care Act.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Ridiculous. By your logic, Kagan should recuse herself from any case where the federal government is a plaintiff. It didn't stop her from ruling on ACA. Take off your partisan blinders.

    • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Monday October 08, 2012 @09:42AM (#41584369)

      Monsanto in the 1970's was a very different company than it is now. During the 1990's Monsanto, like a lot of large chemical companies split into two firms, one of these was Solutia which is the chemical arm of Monsanto, and Monsanto which was the life sciences operations of Monsanto which included GD Searle. This life sciences company merged with Pharmacia and Upjohn which became Pharmacia.

      Late the same year Pharmacia spun off the agriculture business segment of their business which was mostly parts of the Monsanto life sciences operations.

      Since the customers of this Ag business were used to the name Monsanto, that's the name they adopted.

      So today's Monsanto is missing all of the old chemical business that is actually Solutia, and parts of the old life science business (drugs etc.) and is pretty narrowly focused in the ag business.

      You see a lot of claims that Monsanto is a chemical company, well really that's not true any more and hasn't been true for about 15 years.

      I would be very surprised if Clarence has any contacts at the current Monsanto.

  • GMO patents will be upheld.

    The elite have a lot at stake and aren't going to let the supremes derail their gravy train.

    This will be a lesson to all under the grindstone not to trifle with the will of their betters. Got nailed with a federal precedent? Should have kept your mouth shut and left well enough alone instead of stirring up an even bigger hornet's nest.

    I'm jaded due to experience, but still hopeful that I'm wrong.

  • prediction (Score:4, Funny)

    by PopeRatzo (965947) on Monday October 08, 2012 @07:44AM (#41583379) Homepage Journal

    I know what at least one of the justices will say:

    When they get to Sam Alito, he'll point to Antonin Scalia and say, "Whatever he said."

  • True Viral Patent (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Bruha (412869) on Monday October 08, 2012 @09:02AM (#41583919) Homepage Journal

    Monsanto knows their genetic patent is being spread by bees, and yet either nobody is correctly arguing this in court or nobody cares. If someone sued on that issue alone Monsanto's patents would be declared invalid long ago. All these farmers who have had bee by plantings of monsanto's seeds into their crops would be owed a lot of money.

  • by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Monday October 08, 2012 @09:04AM (#41583931)

    The summary states: "The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case over the objections of the Obama administration, which had urged the justices to leave the lower court rulings in place."

    And yet, the linked article makes no claim like that, nor does the summary provide a link to that. So, please, where is the citation to support that claim?

  • by El Fantasmo (1057616) on Monday October 08, 2012 @09:55AM (#41584513)

    By Monsanto's logic, if some of my patented drink mix unintentionally found it's way into an aquifer, anyone who gets water from that aquifer owes me money if I demand it. Soon enough I'll own the water cycle!

  • Rotten Summary (Score:4, Informative)

    by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Monday October 08, 2012 @09:57AM (#41584525)

    Well, looking around the internets finds that the article and summary are in this case rather poor. Fortunately there are better sources, in this case a good Reuters article:

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/09/21/us-monsanto-lawsuit-idUSTRE78K79O20110921 [reuters.com]

    In Bowman's case, he planted Roundup Ready seeds as his first-crop in each growing season from 1999-2007 and did not save seed in compliance with licensing agreements. But he also purchased commodity seed from a local grain elevator for a late-season planting, or what is known as a "second-crop."

    The farmer applied glyphosate to his second soybean crops and was able to identify herbicide-resistant plants, from which he then saved seed for subsequent years of second-crop planting, according to the court documents.

    So this is really a case over both patent exhaustion and contract law. It's interesting that the seed selection step is the same process that got Percy Schmeiser in trouble.

  • by MarkvW (1037596) on Monday October 08, 2012 @12:17PM (#41586463)

    If Monsanto's seeds are patented (and I think it would be a cruel injustice if they are), then somebody ought to sue the ass off of that company for purposely littering neighbor's croplands with patented seeds that cause economic damage to neighboring farmers.

    This is a clear case of right and wrong and Monsanto is wrong.

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