Sunday, May 19, 2013

Monsanto opinion says a farmer could infringe on a patent merely by planting a seed ("At Any Price" movie)

Timothy B. Lee has a story about the Monsanto Supreme Court decision on p. G2, Business, of the May `9 Washington Post Wonkbloig. The title is “Supreme Court says you can violate a patent by planting a seed”, link here.  

The case concerns a “farmer in the dell” Vernon Bowman, who bought some  genetically engineered soybeans (designed to resist to “Roundup” pesticides) and planted them rather than eating them.
The case raises a lot of interesting questions.  Bowman argues that he didn’t “create” the seeds (“procreation” is not “creation”) , and that disinterred farms could not avoid accidental infringement, a possibility which the Court tried to mute.
The slip opinion, decided May 13, 2013 is here
The issue comes up obliquely in the film “At Any Price”, reviewed on the movies blog May 3, where Dennis Quaid  plays the suspect farmer who gets investigate by the growing company.
Lee’s piece raises the possibility that the decision makes agriculture more susceptible to patent trolls.   

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