GENET archive


4-Patents: Monsanto sued for alleged glyphosate monopoly in the USA

                                 PART I
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

SOURCE: Public Patent Foundation, USA
DATE:   29 Sep 2006

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Patent Office Asked to Review and Revoke Agricultural Giant's Widely
Asserted Patents

New York, NY -- September 29, 2006 -- The Public Patent Foundation
("PUBPAT") filed formal requests with the United States Patent and
Trademark Office today to review and ultimately revoke four of Monsanto
Company's patents related to genetically modified crops that the
agricultural giant is using to harass, intimidate, sue - and in some
cases literally bankrupt - American farmers.  In its filings, PUBPAT
submitted prior art showing the patents were obvious in light of earlier
work by other inventors and, as such, should have never been granted.

Monsanto has filed dozens of patent infringement lawsuits asserting the
four challenged patents against American farmers, many of whom are
unable to hire adequate representation to defend themselves in court. 
The crime these farmers are accused of is nothing more than saving seed
from one year's crop to replant the following year, something farmers
have done since the beginning of time.  The Center for Food Safety found
in its study of the matter that, "Monsanto has used heavy-handed
investigations and ruthless prosecutions that have fundamentally changed
the way many American farmers farm.  The result has been nothing less
than an assault on the foundations of farming practices and traditions
that have endured for centuries in this country and millennia around the
world, including one of the oldest, the right to save and replant crop

"Monsanto's aggressive assertion of its patents is not only obnoxious
and offensive to the core fabric of American life and culture, it is
also causing substantial public harm," said Dan Ravicher, PUBPAT's
Executive Director.  "It appears as though Monsanto wants to control all
of America's farmland and - unfortunately - the patent system is
providing them the perfect means to accomplish that goal by bullying
independent and family owned farms right out of existence."

Copies of the Requests for Reexamination filed by PUBPAT against the
four patents Monsanto is widely asserting against America's famers can
be found at PUBPAT > Monsanto v. Farmer Patents.

                                 PART II
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  Monsanto sued for alleged glyphosate monopoly
        Plaintiffs say company unfairly dominates market years after
        Roundup patent expired
SOURCE: Agriculture Online News, USA, by Jeff Caldwell
DATE:   28 Sep 2006

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Monsanto sued for alleged glyphosate monopoly
Plaintiffs say company unfairly dominates market years after Roundup
patent expired

The Monsanto Company is the target of a class-action antitrust lawsuit
filed this week in federal court.

Pullen Seeds and Soil, based in Sac City, Iowa, led the group filing
Pullen Seeds and Soil v. Monsanto Company, No. 06-599, Tuesday in U.S.
District Court in Wilmington, Delaware. Plaintiffs allege the company
violated Sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman Antitrust Act, as it allegedly
has a monopoly over the glyphosate herbicide marketplace with its
Roundup products. Monsanto's patent on Roundup product name expired in 2000.

"During the post-patent period...Roundup has maintained an 80% (or more)
market share of all the glyphosate herbicides sold in the United States
despite Monsanto's charging dealers 300% to 400% more for brand-name
Roundup than the price charged by generic competitors," according to the
Pullen v. Monsanto court document filed Tuesday. "Monsanto's ability to
charge higher prices for Roundup is the result of a comprehensive
anticompetitive scheme which Monsanto began implementing in the 1990s."

In the class-action lawsuit filed Tuesday, Pullen, a licensed grower of
Monsanto's soybeans and corn containing glyphosate tolerance and seller
of Monsanto seed, is joined by an estimated 100,000 class members around
the nation (1,000 in Iowa), according to Iowa State University
agriculture law specialist and ag law center director Roger McEowen.
But, according to Monsanto spokesman and public affairs manager Andrew
Burchett, the anticompetitive practices named in the suit do not exist.

"There are dozens of different brands and formulations of glyphosate
available from more than 30 different companies in the United States,"
Burchett says. "This is far more competition than exists with regard to
any other agricultural chemical."

Plaintiffs also allege Monsanto retained product exclusivity "by
acquiring seed companies that were developing modified seed technology,
eliminating those products that could have led to the development of
genetically modified seeds that could be used with non-glyphosate
herbicide," according to McEowen.

"These efforts to block the development of competing genetically
modified seeds had a direct effect on Monsanto's glyphosate herbicide
monopoly because had competing seeds been developed, farmers would have
had a choice not only to buy competing seeds, but also to use different
types of herbicides instead of glyphosate," according to the court
document. "Thus, the development of these competing seeds would have
created an increased demand for other non-glyphosate herbicides that
would have competed with Roundup.

"This would have dramatically reduced Roundup's market dominance and
Monsanto's ability to charge monopoly prices," the document reads.

Also at issue in the Pullen case is the practice of "bundling" crop
input products like herbicides with seed. While this is not uncommon in
the crop seed industry, it could become a major argument in the case.

"In addition to the exclusive dealing requirements with its seed company
licensees, Pullen claims that Monsanto has used various types of bundled
rebates to ensure that seed companies produce and sell seed containing
Monsanto's seed traits virtually exclusively," McEowen says.

Yet, the arguments used by Pullen, et. al., according to Burchett, are
not new and instead appear to be attempts to find holes in previously
resolved cases.

"This complaint appears to recycle old allegations regarding our
marketing and pricing of glyphosate -- complaints that DuPont and others
previously have made in lawsuits and which were the subject of an
investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice that was closed in 2004
with no enforcement action," Burchett says. "We believe this complaint
is without merit and will vigorously defend against it."

The process now awaits the formal organization of the plaintiff class,
which McEowen says will seek "declaratory and injunctive relief for
Monsanto's alleged violations...and treble damages under Iowa antitrust
law for the overcharges Pullen and other class members have paid." He
estimates the "very difficult" case could take up to 10 years.

Calls to Pullen Seeds and Soil were not returned.

European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering

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