Vernon Hugh Bowman, a 74-year-old soybean farmer, will have his day in court against Monsanto in the US Supreme Court next year. Bowman was originally sued by Monsanto Co for alleged patent infringement for the use of a genetically modified soybean crop.
Under the company's licensing contract, farmers can only use the product to harvest one round of crops. However, Monsanto sued Bowman because they say he is at fault for planting a second harvest. However, this second harvest came from commercially-purchased "commodity seeds" from a grain elevator that contained, in part, the Roundup Ready GMO seeds.
Apparently you can sell "second-generation" seeds to grain elevators for use as "commodity seeds," and Monsanto doesn't require that there be any restriction on the sale.
However, Monsanto claimed this was infringement, even though the seeds were legally sold to the grain elevator and then from the elevator to Bowman without restrictions.
While Bowman had signed an agreement for his original seeds, he did not with this batch. Even Monsanto admits he didn't break the user agreement - just patent infringement for using the seeds.
The US Federal Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an $84,456 damages ruling awarded to Monsanto in September 2011. However Bowman vowed to appeal this ruling and has now got the attention of the highest court in the US. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear his case and they expect it to happen in Washington, DC in January or February of 2013.
According to the Las Vegas Sun, the Obama administration urged the court not to take the case and warned that the outcome could affect patents involving DNA molecules, nanotechnologies and other self-replicating technologies.
Bowman is arguing in his appeal that the Federal Circuit decision favoring Monsanto was incorrect, as an earlier court had agreed that Monsanto had no rights on how its product was used after it was sold to consumers.