This Spring has been fruitful for seed giant, Monsanto. We reported earlier that Monsanto and rival DuPont entered into technology licensing agreements, ending nearly four years of patent and antitrust litigation. On Monday, May 13, Monsanto’s cornucopia arrived, with the Supreme Court ruling unanimously in its favor. This case revolved around the question of whether the doctrine of patent exhaustion allowed a farmer who bought patented seeds to, without permission, reproduce the seeds through planting and harvesting. The seeds in question were glyphosate herbicide-resistant soybean seeds, covered under two patents issued to Monsanto.
Author: Estelle J. Tsevdos, Ph.D.
Since March 16, 2013, the United States has been under a first-inventor to-file patent system. Although it has always been good scientific practice for inventors to keep and maintain laboratory notebooks, it was all the more important in a first-to-invent patent system. In light of the recent changes in U.S. patent law, will keeping and maintaining a laboratory notebook have any importance for patent applications filed under the new system?
An End to the Seed War: Monsanto and DuPont Call Off Their Patent and Antitrust Lawsuits as a Decision in Bowman v. Monsanto is Pending
On March 25, seed giants DuPont and Monsanto entered into technology licensing agreements that ended their ongoing patent and antitrust lawsuits. According to the terms of the agreement, DuPont will pay at least $1.75 billion in licensing and royalty fees to Monsanto from 2014 to 2023. These payments include fixed royalty payments from 2014 to 2017, totaling $802 million, and per-unit based royalty payments from 2019 to 2023, subject to annual minimums, totaling $950 million. DuPont and Monsanto also will dismiss their respective patent and antitrust lawsuits, including the August 2012 damage award of $1 billion against DuPont that have been pending since 2009. Further details on these agreements can be found in DuPont and Monsanto’s joint March 26 press release and DuPont’s March 26 Form 8-K.
Patent and Copyright First-Sale and International Exhaustion Standards to Remain in Conflict … For Now!
On the heels of its March 19, 2013, decision in Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., where the Supreme Court held that international exhaustion , i.e., an ex-U.S. first-sale rule applies to copyrights, the Court has surprisingly denied Ninestar Technology Co. Ltd.’s (“Ninestar”) petition for certiorari to consider whether international exhaustion applies to patents.
Starting on September 16th, seven important provisions of the America Invents Act (“AIA”) will take effect: inter partes review, post grant review, supplemental examination, third-party “preissuance submission,” substitute statement in lieu of the inventor’s oath/declaration, transitional program for covered business method patents, and citation of patent owner statements in a patent file. Not all of the provisions are applicable to every patent and/or patent application. So, it is important that one consults with patent counsel before taking action. Below are helpful takeaways and summaries of these key changes. More information can be found on the USPTO’s website.