Bowman v. Monsanto – February 19, 2013

Is it patent infringement to reproduce genetically modified seeds? Are farmers buying seed licenses or seeds? Some argue that the Exhaustion Doctrine should apply to all patents, including biotechnology. Others believe that Monsanto’s patents should not extend into second generation seeds or cross generation seeds and that Monsanto’s patents force farmers to take all of the risks of farming while Monsanto gains control of how farms are used.

In 1994 Monsanto was granted a patent for genetic material from a virus that it used to incorporate new genetic material into plants. This enabled Monsanto to go forward and patent a gene that makes seeds resistant to the chemicals farmers use on weeds. Monsanto now believes its patents cover not only its seeds, but every single plant or seed created from the original seeds. On the other side of the argument, farmers believe that once they purchase seeds from Monsanto, they own the seeds outright and every crop grown from the original seeds thereafter.

Tighten your thinking cap, this oral argument will have your head spinning.