Organic Seed Growers Bring Innovative Patent Challenge Against Monsanto

New York, NY – Earlier this year, patent attorneys for a group of 60 organizations and farmers, including the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association, filed a patent lawsuit in the Southern District of New York against agriculture giant Monsanto Company of St. Louis, Missouri. Monsanto.jpgThe plaintiffs are farmers who do not want their organic seeds contaminated by the transgentic or genetically modified seeds that are produced and patented by Monsanto. The feared contamination occurs when organic seeds come into contact with genetic material from transgentic seeds through natural pollination processes, such as the wind blowing transgentic pollen to a organic farm nearby . The plaintiffs allege that, given Monsanto’s reputation for vigorously defending its patents, they have brought “this action to protect themselves from ever being accused of infringing patents on transgenic seed.” Their complaint begins: “Society stands on the precipice of forever being bound to transgenic agriculture and transgenic food. Coexistence between transgenic seed and organic seed is impossible because transgenic seed contaminates and eventually overcomes organic seed. ” The organic farmers seek a declaratory judgment that all of Monsanto’s transgentic seed patents are invalid as injurious to public health and for numerous other reasons.

Monsanto has filed a motion to dismiss arguing that the plaintiffs have not demonstrated a justiciable case or controversy and therefore the court does not have subject matter jurisdiction. Monsanto also states that it has issued a public statement declaring that its patent attorneys will not file patent infringement lawsuits against farmers who’s crops are inadvertently contaminated by its patented seeds. Monsanto is being represented by former U.S. Solicitor General Seth Waxman.

Briefing on the motion to dismiss was completed in late August so a decision could be expected at any time. An amicus curiae brief in support of plaintiffs has also been filed.

Practice Tip: Monsanto is an aggressive litigant in defending its intellectual property rights and has sued numerous Indiana farmers. Monsanto recently won the appeal of the Southern District of Indiana‘s decision against an Indiana farmer in patent infringement lawsuit, which Indiana Intellectual Property Law and News blogged about here: US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit Affirms the Southern District Court of Indiana’s Decision Holding Indiana Farmer Infringed Soybean Seed Patents.

This case has been assigned to Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald in the Southern District of New York, and assigned Case No. 1:11-cv-02163-NRBOrganic Growers Amended Complaint

Further Information about the case is as follows:

Filed: March 29, 2011 as 1:2011cv02163 Updated: June 21, 2011 14:50:28 Plaintiffs: Abundant Acres , Adaptive Seeds, LLC , Alba Ranch , Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co., LLC , Bruce Stephens and othersPresiding Judges:Naomi Reice Buchwald and Cause Of Action: Declaratory JudgementCourt:Second Circuit > New York > Southern District Court Type:Intellectual Property > Patent

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