The U.S. Supreme Court agreed on Friday to consider an Indiana soybean farmer’s appeal of a decision finding that he infringed Monsanto Company patents over seeds containing the company’s genetically altered Roundup Ready technology.
The case is one of seven that the highest U.S. court agreed to hear on Friday, with oral arguments likely to be scheduled for January or February of 2013.
In the Monsanto case, Vernon Bowman, who is in his mid-70s, was appealing a September 2011 decision by the U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals upholding an $84,456 damages award for Monsanto.
The company had claimed that Bowman was growing more soybeans than his seed purchases could generate.
Bowman countered that he had bought the seeds as part of an undifferentiated mix of “commodity” seeds, and that farmers have used such seeds for planting, and created so-called “second generation” seeds, for decades.
In his appeal, Bowman said the Federal Circuit erred in finding that his use of the seeds for a natural and foreseeable purpose – planting – created new seeds that infringed Monsanto’s rights. He said earlier court decisions suggested that Monsanto had no rights after it made an initial sale.