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4-Patents: US court revives Bayer case against Monsanto on Bt corn



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TITLE:  US court revives Bayer case against Monsanto
SOURCE: Reuters, by Carey Gill
DATE:   Apr 1, 2004

------------------- archive: http://www.genet-info.org -------------------


US court revives Bayer case against Monsanto

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A U.S. appeals court this week revived Bayer 
BioScience's patent claims in a legal dispute with rival Monsanto Co. 
(MON.N: Quote, Profile, Research) over technology Monsanto uses in its 
insect-resistant corn.

The ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in 
Washington D.C. overturned a lower court's issuance of a summary judgment 
in favor of Monsanto, saying the issues needed to be decided through a 
trial of the facts.

The four-year-old dispute between St. Louis, Missouri-based Monsanto and 
the unit of Bayer AG (BAYG.DE: Quote, Profile, Research) of Germany 
involves four key patents and whether or not Monsanto has infringed on 
those patents.

Bayer officials heralded the news Tuesday and said they hope to ultimately 
force Monsanto to pay royalties based on both past and future sales of its 
Bt corn.

"In essence the court really reversed all of the decisions of the district 
court below and found entirely in favor of Bayer," said Philippe Dumont, 
head of technology management for Bayer. "We have a high feeling of 
vindication."

But Monsanto spokesman Bryan Hurley said the setback was minor.

"The court only decided that there are matters of fact that couldn't be 
decided on summary judgment, and while we're disappointed ... we're poised 
and ready to go to trial rapidly to obtain a final ruling that the patents 
are invalid," Hurley said.

The case involves four patents covering technology that alters plant DNA 
in a way that makes the plant engineer a bacterium that is toxic to 
insects. The technology was developed and patented by a predecessor to 
Bayer, but Monsanto has used similar methods in developing its popular 
biotech Bt corn product.

Bayer BioScience is a business group of Bayer CropScience AG based in 
Monheim, Germany, which is a unit of Bayer AG (BAYG.DE: Quote, Profile, 
Research) .

The ruling by the appellate court comes nearly six months after Monsanto 
and Bayer resolved several other patent disputes through cross-licensing 
agreements.

It also follows the news in December that Bayer received an exclusive 
license for agrobacterium-transformation technology after a 20-year battle 
with Monsanto.

 


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