ST. LOUIS, Jan. 19, 2010 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Monsanto Company (NYSE: MON) welcomed the St. Louis Federal Court's ruling that DuPont was not licensed to combine the Roundup Ready® trait with the Optimum® GAT® (OGAT) trait in corn or soybeans. The ruling means that DuPont is not authorized to use the Roundup Ready trait to mask the "unacceptable risks to farmers" posed by DuPont's OGAT trait.
"The Court ruled that the Monsanto-DuPont license agreements 'are unambiguous and do not grant Pioneer the right to stack' the Roundup Ready trait with the Optimum GAT trait," said Scott Partridge, chief deputy general counsel for Monsanto. "DuPont negotiated and signed a contract with a specific set of rights, at the financial terms they preferred, and the rights did not include making this stacked combination. This was DuPont's business decision."
"The court record further highlights that DuPont was authorized to create any stacked trait product with our Roundup Ready technology other than one such as OGAT, a conscious business decision that they made at the time the contract was negotiated and signed," said Partridge. "DuPont has always had the rights to create a stacked product such as Roundup Ready with its Plenish™ High Oleic soybean oil product, or adding a second herbicide tolerance mode like its proprietary ALS-herbicide-tolerance combined with Roundup Ready."
"Importantly, the court's ruling follows well-established patent and contract law by recognizing the rights of the technology developer and reinforcing that contractual rights should be respected," said Partridge. "Now that the fundamental issue in this case has been decided, we look forward to rapidly concluding the balance of this litigation."
A Demonstrated Track Record of Reasonable Business Solutions, Enabling Competition
"Monsanto has always and continues to remain open to reasonable business solutions that create value for farmers," Partridge said. "This is exemplified by the wide array of seed products which contain a combination of intellectual property from Monsanto and other companies."
As the first company to broadly license traits technologies to hundreds of independent seed companies, including its major trait competitors, Monsanto remains committed to and has a demonstrated track record of actively working with companies to offer cutting-edge technologies. This includes creating and licensing stacked trait products which incorporate Monsanto's traits and competitive trait technologies. This approach, which is highlighted through multiple corn and cotton trait offerings, ensures that farmers can purchase trait technologies from the seed companies they prefer to do business with.
Monsanto also recently confirmed that Roundup Ready soybeans would remain available after patent expiry and would be royalty-free to farmers beginning in the 2015 season. The technology represents the first widespread biotechnology trait to come off patent in the middle of this decade. Monsanto also confirmed that it would not use variety patents against U.S. farmers who save varieties with the technology on their own farms after the expiration of the patent.
Monsanto originally filed suit against E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company and its wholly owned subsidiary, Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc., in May 2009. The lawsuit sought to prevent the unlicensed combination of Monsanto's proprietary Roundup Ready® herbicide tolerant technologies in soybeans and corn with DuPont's problem plagued OGAT.
In 2006, DuPont stated it would replace the Roundup Ready gene in its line to improve performance. The company later changed its story describing Roundup Ready as "essential" upon learning its own glyphosate tolerance gene in OGAT created "unacceptable risk to farmers." Interested parties who would like to learn more about the evolution of DuPont's comments on OGAT are encouraged to visit www.monsanto.com/dupontlawsuit/timeline.
Monsanto filed an early motion for judgment on the pleadings in the case in October. This ruling eliminates the need for a trial in this case about how the two companies' license agreement is interpreted. More information about this litigation as well as a copy of the Federal Court's ruling is available on Monsanto's website at: www.monsanto.com/dupontlawsuit.
This represents the third time that a court has ruled that DuPont has violated a trait licensing agreement with Monsanto, and the second time that a court has found DuPont did so by using Monsanto's technology in a way that was not authorized.
Over the last several months, since Monsanto filed this suit, DuPont has leveled a campaign of misinformation against Monsanto's business. As media reports have highlighted, some of DuPont's efforts included funding organizations such as the American Antitrust Institute (AAI) and the Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM) - groups which have, in turn, released reports with misleading information about Monsanto's business practices.
About Monsanto Company
Monsanto Company is a leading global provider of technology-based solutions and agricultural products that improve farm productivity and food quality. Monsanto remains focused on enabling both small-holder and large-scale farmers to produce more from their land while conserving more of our world's natural resources such as water and energy. To learn more about our business and our commitments, please visit: www.monsanto.com . Follow our business on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MonsantoCo on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MonsantoCo, or subscribe to our News Release RSS Feed .
Editor's Note: Roundup Ready and Monsanto and the Vine Design are trademarks of Monsanto Technology LLC. Optimum® GAT® and Plenish™ are registered trademarks or trademarks of DuPont or its affiliates.
Lee Quarles, 314-694-2330
Kelli Powers, 314-694-4003
SOURCE Monsanto Company