DuPont Sues Monsanto For Patent Infringement Over Corn-Seed Treatment

By Joseph Mandour on October 24, 2011

seedlingOrange County – Delaware based DuPont brought an action against agricultural biotech giant Monsanto for patent infringement in the Southern District of Iowa alleging that Monsanto has been using DuPont’s patented corn seed treatment. The subject of the patent involves a process for making corn resistant to herbicides such as Roundup and Paraquat. DuPont claims that the process improves the “vigor” of the seed corn to improve germination despite the seed’s exposure to herbicides.

The patented DuPont process involves defoliating the plant after pollination but prior to harvest. Defoliation is a process in which a defoliant strips off the leaves of a plant. Defoliants, in contrast to herbicides, do not stunt or prevent the growth of a plant. Instead defoliants,such as Agent Orange, cause the plants leaves to fall off. The DuPont patent claims a method for invigorating the germination of seeds through defoliation.

As the owner of the registered U.S. patents, DuPont has the exclusive right to prevent others from using, making, selling, or importing the patented article or process. As the DuPont patent is a process patent, DuPont may prevent others from selling or distributing products made by using the patented process.

In response to the suit, Monsanto claims that it utilizes no such defoliation process in its seed production, calling the suit “baseless” and “frivolous.” Monsanto, does market a line of seeds known as “Roundup Ready,” which are resistant to the herbicide Roundup, also manufactured by Monsanto. However, DuPont is alleging that Monsanto uses defoliation as a part of or in addition to current herbicide-resistant methods in its seed development.

In its suit, DuPont alleges that Monsanto has deliberately and willfully used its patented process and requested Monsanto’s profits from use of the DuPont patent as well as damages and attorney’s fees. DuPont also seeks an injunction preventing further use of methods claimed in U.S. Patent Nos. 5,518,989 and 6, 162,974.

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Posted in: Patent Infringement