February 19, 2013

Supreme Court hears arguments over Monsanto patents

Mark Sherman / The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court appears likely to side with Monsanto Co. in its claim that an Indiana farmer violated the company's patents on soybean seeds that are resistant to its weed-killer.

Indiana farmer Vernon Hugh Bowman, 75, visits the Lincoln Memorial in Washington on Monday.

AP

None of the justices in arguments at the high court Tuesday seemed ready to endorse farmer Vernon Hugh Bowman's argument that cheap soybeans he bought from a grain elevator are not covered by the Monsanto patents, even though most of them also were genetically modified to resist the company's Roundup herbicide.

Chief Justice John Roberts wondered "why anyone in the world" would invest time and money on seeds if it was so easy to evade patent protection.

The case is being closely watched by researchers and businesses holding patents on DNA molecules, nanotechnologies and other self-replicating technologies.

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