Monsanto Co. and Pilot Grove Cooperative Elevator, Inc. have settled a two-year dispute involving patent infringement.
Pilot Grove, based in a Missouri town of the same name about 100 miles east of Kansas City, acknowledged violating Monsanto’s patented Roundup Ready seed technology and accepted responsibility for damages, according to Monsanto.
In this case, Monsanto’s lawsuit accused the farm co-op of aiding the practice of reusing seed by cleaning seeds for use in future crops. That violated the contract between Monsanto and growers, which prohibits growers from stockpiling seeds or selling second-generation seeds, the company claimed.
As compensation, Pilot Grove Coop will remain in the surrounding community to fund scholarships for local, college-bound FFA and 4-H youth. Pilot Grove Coop will also develop and adopt a stewardship policy to avoid future patent infringement and assure sound product stewardship, and will work with a third-party organization to provide training for employees.
“We pursue these cases for a number of important reasons,” states Scott Baucum, Monsanto’s director of U.S. Commercial Trait Stewardship. “First, we owe it to the hundreds of thousands of Monsanto farmer-customers who are abiding by their contracts to assure a level playing field, and that some farmers don’t have an unfair advantage. Also, while it’s important to Monsanto to protect our investment, it is extremely important to the entire agricultural community that we are able to continue to reinvest in new and better seed technology. For every $10 a farmer spends on seed, Monsanto invests $1 in research and development.”
“We are glad to have been able to resolve this issue professionally and in a way that demonstrates the commitment of both Monsanto and Pilot Grove Coop to agriculture and this community in a way that minimizes the impact to those farmer-members who were not involved. We are also glad to be able to offer seed with traits and to continue to do business with Monsanto,” said Earl Haller of Pilot Grove Coop.