New York, NY – The Southern District of New York has dismissed an innovative patent infringement lawsuit brought by a group of organic farmers against agriculture giant Monsanto Company for lack of jurisdiction. 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 because there was no current case or controversy.
We previously blogged about the case here. 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. The plaintiffs are farmers who do not want their organic seeds contaminated by the transgenic or genetically modified seeds that are produced and patented by Monsanto. They feared contamination occurs when organic seeds come into contact with genetic material from transgenic seeds through natural pollination processes, such as the wind blowing transgenic pollen to a organic farm nearby. The plaintiffs alleged 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 sought a declaratory judgment that all of Monsanto’s transgenic seed patents are invalid as injurious to public health and for numerous other reasons. “
The Organic Seed Farmers have not yet indicated whether they will appeal this decision.
Practice Tip: As the court noted in finding it did not have jurisdiction: “The Declaratory Judgment Act provides, “In a case of actual controversy within its jurisdiction, . . . any court of the United States . . . may declare the rights and other legal relations of any interested party seeking such declaration, whether or not further relief is or could be sought.” 28 U.S.C.§ 2201(a).” A plaintiffs belief that a lawsuit may be threatened, even if somewhat realistic, must typically allege some affirmative facts to support the threat in order for the court to find an actual case or controversy exists.
This case was assigned to US District Judge Naomi Reice BuchwaldSouthern District of New York Court, and assigned Case No.1:11-cv-02163-NRB