On Jan. 7, the U.S. Supreme Court let stand, without comment, a lower court ruling that punished a Mississippi farmer for reusing Monsanto Co.’s patented, genetically modified soybeans, according to an Associated Press (AP) report.
Monsanto sued Homan McFarling in 1999 for violating its patents by planting biotech seeds that he saved from a previous year’s crop. The company won $375,000 in damages, which McFarling’s lawyers also challenged as excessive.
Since the late 1990s, Monsanto has pursued similar lawsuits against almost 100 farmers, according to the Center for Food Safety, a nonprofit that is against biotech crops. The center opposes the lawsuits and urged the court to take McFarling’s case.
Lawyers for McFarling argued that patent law doesn’t allow Monsanto "to control the future use of seeds that were a natural product of the seeds that he had bought and planted."
But a district court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit sided with Monsanto.
The appeals court ruled that the second-generation seeds were "nearly identical copies" of Monsanto’s patented seeds, and a district court injunction barring their use is "simply a prohibition against unlicensed use of the patented invention."
(Source: Associated Press)