GENET archive


4-Patents: Dow Chemical wins key Bt technology patent

------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  Dow says it wins patent for biocrops
SOURCE: St. Loius Post-Dispatch, USA, by Rachel Melcer
DATE:   14 Sep 2005

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Dow says it wins patent for biocrops

Dow Chemical Co. said Tuesday it won rights to a "broad and enabling"
technology for creating genetically modified crops, such as those sold by
Monsanto Co. of Creve Coeur.

Concluding a dispute between the two companies that has run for more than
a decade, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded a patent to Dow
AgroSciences LLC, an Indianapolis-based subsidiary of the chemical giant.

The patent applies to a method of transferring genes from a bacterium,
Bacillus thuringiensis, to plants. The bacterium, known as Bt, kills
certain insects.

Monsanto has yet to review the patent ruling, spokeswoman Lori Fisher
said. However, Monsanto believes it holds sufficient patents on related
technology to continue marketing and developing its products, she said.

Still, Dow said the patent allows it to seek royalties from competitors,
which use Bt technology to make corn and cotton plants resistant to
certain destructive pests. And Fisher said she did not yet know if
Monsanto could be held to royalty payments under the patent issuance.

Besides Monsanto, Bt crops are sold by Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc.
through a partnership with Dow AgroSciences. Syngenta AG has said it is
developing the technology, too.

Yet, Dow said its interests lie beyond collecting royalty payments. It
would rather use the patent as leverage to settle outstanding
intellectual-property lawsuits, or to formulate cross-licensing deals for
its competitors' technology, spokesman Garry Hamlin said.

"There is a lot of patent dispute in the biotech industry - essentially
all major companies are involved in litigation," he said. "We see this as
an opportunity for resolution of some of those disputes, as opposed to
spending time in court, which is not very productive."

The patent could be challenged in court. Monsanto has not yet made any
such decision, Fisher said.

An estimated 29 million acres of Bt corn, and 7 million acres of Bt
cotton were planted in the United States this year, according to a survey
by the Agriculture Department.

Monsanto said that this year it sold Bt corn seed sufficient for planting
37.2 million U.S. acres and enough Bt cotton seed for 7.4 million acres.

Dow does not release such information.

Monsanto's shares lost 90 cents in trading Tuesday to close at $64.21.
Dow shares dropped 72 cents, closing at $44.25.


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