Bowman v. Monsanto: Crisis Averted on IP Protection for Self-Replicating Technologies

Life science companies in general (and seed companies in particular) are breathing a sigh of relief following the Supreme Court’s decision yesterday in Bowman v. Monsanto.

As Bowman wended its way through district court to the Federal Circuit, the rulings were consistent that Mr. Bowman — a farmer who planted multiple generations of seeds with Monsanto’s technology without paying Monsanto for the seeds — had infringed Monsanto’s patents. These rulings were in line with court precedents that the “patent exhaustion” doctrine did not give a purchaser the right to make new copies of a patented invention. When the Supreme Court granted certiorari, however, there was cause for concern that the Federal Circuit might be reversed, putting IP protection for self-replicating life science inventions in jeopardy.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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