In February, we discussed the patent infringement case involving Vernon Hugh Bowman, a 75-year-old Indiana farmer who bought agriculture giant Monsanto’s genetically modified soybeans that were intended for animal feed from a grain elevator, planted the seeds and saved some seeds for later plantings. Monsanto requires farmers to buy a new batch every season and claimed Bowman violated the company’s patent. Bowman argued he should be able to do whatever he wanted with a product he obtained legally because of the first sale doctrine, but a lower court ruled in favor of Monsanto.
On May 13, the US Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of Monsanto. While Monsanto’s lead attorney claimed the decision “provides assurance to all inventors throughout the public and private sectors that they can and should continue to invest in innovation that feeds people, improves lives, creates jobs, and allows America to keep its competitive edge,” Justice Elena Kagan wrote in speaking for the court that the decision applies only to this case. That is a very important aspect to the case because many self-replicating technologies are a major concern in patent law for a variety of industries. Marcia Coyle of the National Law Journal told the PBS NewsHour that she thought Monsanto spends “in general over a billion dollars a year in research and development,” and noted that patent law protects inventions long enough to allow companies to recoup such investments.
You can learn more about intellectual property litigation by visiting our website. If you need legal assistance with a patent issue for your invention, contact our firm today at (323) 405-1002 or enter your information in the form on this page to let our Los Angeles patent infringement attorney review your case.
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