Case Detail

Bowman v. Monsanto Co.
On May 13, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the right of patent holders to require farmers to pay royalties for use of genetically modified seeds. The decision was a victory for WLF, which filed a brief urging the Court to uphold patent rights. Some growers were insisting that patent holders are entitled to collect a royalty on the first generation of seeds only, and that thereafter growers are entitled to royalty-free use of seeds produced by those first-generation plants. Rejecting that claim, the Court held that the doctrine of “patent exhaustion” does not limit the right of seed producers to prevent multi-generational use of patented seeds. The Court agreed with WLF that while purchasers of a patented item have a virtually unlimited right to “use” the item, they do not have the right to construct a new article on the template of the original. If purchasers of a patented item had the right to make or grow copies of the item, patents would quickly lose all value, the Court said.
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More Information and Downloads:
1/23/2013: Download the Brief

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