Soybean plants

Indiana soybean farmer Vernon Bowman violated Monsanto’s restriction that forbids growers who use its licensed Roundup Ready seeds to extend them beyond a single growing season, found the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington.

Monsanto filed the case in 2007, claiming Bowman infringed on its patent rights. “The attempt to limit the applicability of patent rights was again squarely rejected by the court,” Monsanto said in a statement.

Bowman planted Roundup Ready seeds as his first-round crop for the growing seasons between 1999-2007, purchasing new seeds each season as per the Roundup licensing agreement. He also bought additional ‘commodity seed’ from a grain elevator for second-crop planting late in the season. Bowman then used Monsanto’s Roundup pesticide and saved seeds from the plants that showed to be most resistant to the glyphosate-based pesticide.

Monsanto restricts farmers who use their Roundup Ready seeds to only one commercial crop season, according to the claim. And despite Bowman’s position that Monsanto’s patent rights expire once those seeds are sold to grain elevators, the court still ruled in favor of the world’s largest seed company, awarding nearly $85,000 in damages.

A lawyer for Bowman, Mark Walters, said the court decision was disappointing, citing that it conflicts with “over a century of Supreme Court law on patent exhaustion.” Bowman may appeal the judgment, said Walters.

According to a report published in 2005, Monsanto has sued more than 90 farmers for patent infringement surrounding the use of their genetically modified corn, cotton, canola and soybeans. In some cases, growers facing lawsuits were victims of crop-drift when seeds from neighboring farms unintentionally pollinated their non-GMO crops.

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Image: dok1