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Indiana farmer’s tangle with seed producer over patent infringement gets SCOTUS review

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The Supreme Court of the United States has agreed to review a federal appeals court decision regarding patent infringement in a case involving an Indiana farmer and a seed producer.

At issue in Vernon Hugh Bowman v. Monsanto Company and Monsanto Technology LLC, 11-796, is whether the federal circuit erred by refusing to find a patent exhaustion in patented seeds even after an authorized sale and by creating an exception to the doctrine of patent exhaustion for self-replicating technologies.
 
In his petition for a writ of certiorari, Vernon Bowman contends the case merits a review by the Supreme Court because the federal circuit’s ruling conflicts with the high court’s precedents and is of “great importance to a wide swath of this country’s economy.”

Monsanto sued Bowman in October 2007 alleging patent infringement after it learned the Knox County farmer was growing more soybeans than his purchases from the company could generate.

Bowman typically planted two soybean crops during the season. For the first crop, he purchased Pioneer Hi-Bred soybean seeds from Pioneer Hi-Bred, a Monsanto licensed seed producer. For the second crop, which was planted later in the season and therefore was considered riskier, Bowman purchased commodity seeds from a local grain elevator.

He subsequently discovered that like the seeds he purchased from Pioneer for the first crop, the commodity seeds were not harmed or killed by the glyphosate-based herbicide. Also, unlike his first crop, Bowman saved seeds harvested from his second crop for replanting of additional late-season crops in later years.

Monsanto had developed and patented the biotechnology that made the seeds resistant to the herbicide, including the company’s Roundup brand herbicide. The seed producer argued its patent rights were not exhausted because of conditions in a licensing agreement, which Bowman signed, and because the protection is applicable to each generation of soybeans that contains the patented trait.

The U.S. District Court of the Southern District of Indiana granted Monsanto’s motion for summary judgment in June 2009, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed in September 2011.    



 

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  1. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  2. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  3. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

  4. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  5. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

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