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U.S. Supreme Court Hears Case Between Monsanto And Indiana Farmer

Duncan Lock
Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on Tuesday in a legal battle between St. Louis-based Monsanto and a 75-year-old Indiana farmer.

The case revolves around whether Vernon Hugh Bowman violated Monsanto's patent rights when he bought and planted second-generation soybean seeds.

The seeds were intended as animal feed, not to be planted. Most of them still contained Monsanto's genetically-engineered traits.

The high court justices strongly questioned Bowman's argument that patent rights end once seeds are sold and replanted.

In an interview with reporters on the steps of the Supreme Court, Bowman said he wasn't trying to get around patent law when he bought what he called "junk seed" to plant it.

"I didn't look at it as a loophole, because I'd always been able to go to the elevator and buy the seed, you follow me? So I just looked at it that when they dumped it in there, that they had abandoned their patent,” Bowman said.

In a statement on its website, Monsanto General Counsel David Snively said the case highlights the importance of protecting intellectual property rights to support innovation in new technologies.

The court is expected to rule on the case by this summer.

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