…But the Indiana farmer, Vernon Hugh Bowman, who had signed such contracts for his main crop, said he discovered a loophole for a second, riskier crop later in the growing season.
For that second crop, he bought seeds from a grain elevator filled with a mix of seeds in the reasonable hope that many of them contained Monsanto’s patented Roundup Ready gene.
Seeds from grain elevators are typically sold for animal feed, food processing or industrial uses. But Mr. Bowman planted them and sprayed them with Roundup. Many plants survived, and he replanted their seeds.
Monsanto sued, and a federal judge in Indiana ordered Mr. Bowman to pay the company more than $84,000. The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which specializes in patent cases, upheld that decision, saying that by planting the seeds Mr. Bowman had infringed Monsanto’s patents.
Justice Kagan agreed, suggesting that Mr. Bowman had been too clever for his own good.
Mr. Bowman’s main argument was that a doctrine called patent exhaustion allowed him to do what he liked with products he had obtained legally. But Justice Kagan said it did not apply to the way he had used the seeds.
“Under the patent exhaustion doctrine, Bowman could resell the patented soybeans he purchased from the grain elevator; so too he could consume the beans himself or feed them to his animals,” she wrote.
“But the exhaustion doctrine does not enable Bowman to make additional patented soybeans without Monsanto’s permission,” she added, and went on to say that “that is precisely what Bowman did.”
(Oh you unworthy worthless humans, bow your heads to the new religion of the new perfect creator, the Corporate God!)