Monsanto Wins Dismissal of Organic Growers' Gene-Patent Suit in New York
By Don Jeffrey – Feb 27, 2012 10:48 AM ET
Monsanto Co. (MON), the world’s largest seed company, won the dismissal of a lawsuit by growers of organic crops seeking to have its patents for genetically altered seeds invalidated.
U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald in Manhattan threw out the organic growers’ lawsuit in a ruling dated Feb. 24, saying it represented no controversy and that she had no jurisdiction over the suit.
Organic farmers, seed companies and food safety groups sued St. Louis-based Monsanto in March 2011 seeking court protection against possible lawsuits by the company for patent infringement if genetically modified crops were mistakenly found among their yields.
“There is no evidence that plaintiffs are infringing defendants’ patents, nor have plaintiffs suggested when, if ever, such infringement will occur,” Buchwald wrote in her opinion.
The growers, claiming that Monsanto “aggressively asserted” its patent claims against hundreds of U.S. farmers, sought a ruling that the patents for genetically engineered seeds are invalid because they are “injurious.”
“The ruling makes it clear that there was neither a history of behavior nor a reasonable likelihood that Monsanto would pursue patent infringement matters against farmers who have no interest in using the company’s patented seed products,” David Snively, Monsanto’s general counsel, said in a statement.
David Ravicher, a lawyer representing the plaintiffs, didn’t immediately return messages seeking comment on the ruling.
“This decision is a win for all farmers as it underscores that agricultural practices such as ag biotechnology, organic and conventional systems do and will continue to coexist in the agricultural marketplace,” Snively said in the statement.
Monsanto fell 47 cents to $79.05 at 10:25 a.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. They had risen 13 percent this year before today.
The case is Organic Seed Growers & Trade Association v. Monsanto Co., 11-02163, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
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