A fight over soybean seeds being practiced between a southern Indiana farmer and Monsanto is closely observed in Northwest Indiana and across the country. The Supreme Court takes Monsanto Co.’s side in its claim that Bowman’s violated the company’s patent on soybean seeds that are resistant to its weed-killer. Vernon Hugh Bowman’s argument that.
- He used the patented seeds for his main crop. For late season crop on about 100 miles southwest of Indianapolis, he wanted a cheap source of seed.
- Cheap soybeans which he bought from a grain elevator are free of Monsanto patents.
- He couldn’t reutilise his own beans or buy seeds from other farmers. So he figured out the way to benefit from a high-technology product without always paying the high prices.
- He explained that most of the soybean would be resistant to weed killers and he was right as well so he repeated the practice for eight years.
Now the issue for the Supreme Court is how long the patent held by world’s largest seed company extends.
Arguments against the Bowman
1) Bowman can make many uses of the soybean but law makes it illegal as he copied the patented invention.
2) Stoner said “as farmer, if we want to continue to have higher yields, we have got to pay for that technology. Before we had to use a cocktail of chemicals. Their technology is proven, effective. From that aspect I don’t blame them.”
3) Monsanto’s top lawyer “Farmers appreciate what we do.”
Arguments in favour the Bowman
1) Company has tried to use patent law to control the supply of seeds for soybeans, corn, cotton, canola, sugar beets and alfalfa due to which seed prices have gone up drastically.
2) It becomes difficult for farmers to find high-quality conventional seeds.
In the end, Supreme Court took Monsanto’s side and said that “farmers may never replant Roundup Ready seeds without running afoul of Monsanto’s patents.” It awarded the company with $84,456 for unlicensed use of its technology. Supreme Court will struggle with the limits of Monsanto’s patent rights, whether they stop with first sale or extent to each new crop.