May 13, 2013
The Supreme Court usually isn’t friendly toward questionable patents, but it came down overwhelmingly on the side of agribusiness giant Monsanto Monday in a case that’s bound to resonate throughout the biotechnology industry.
The court ruled unanimously that an Indiana farmer violated Monsanto’s patent on genetically modified soybeans when he culled some from a grain elevator and used them to replant his own crop in future years.
“If simple copying were a protected use, a patent would plummet in value after the first sale of the first item containing the invention,” Justice Elena Kagan ruled in a short 10-page opinion. “The undiluted patent monopoly, it might be said, would extend not for 20 years as the Patent Act promises, but for only one transaction. And that would result in less incentive for innovation than Congress wanted.”