On Monday, Monsanto filed a lawsuit against DuPont at the U.S. District Court in St. Louis over allegations that DuPont had been copying its seed technology. Monsanto claims that its “seed chipping” invention, which it made public in 2007, meant to breed plants faster has been duplicated by DuPont in a “laser-assisted seed selection” tool in 2008. According to Monsanto the alleged act of DuPont in poaching Monsanto’s technology has caused “irreparable harm” to the company.
DuPont spokesman Dan Turner commented to the media that the lawsuit was “without merit.” He further added, “Monsanto continues to use litigation in an attempt to limit Pioneer from being an effective competitor … This tactic has not worked in previous cases, and it will not work in this matter.”
Monsanto is seeking a permanent injunction on DuPont’s alleged copying and use of the technology and wants three times the losses it suffered as damages from the “willful infringement.” The company says that it has more than a dozen patents related to the technology and has used the technology in the development of its Roundup Ready 2 Yield soybeans. The robotic speed chipper can individually test every seed for desired characteristics and helps to develop stacks of traits in seed products.
Monsanto has alleged that a patent application by DuPont subsidiary Pioneer Hi-Bred International is a “copycat” application. Both companies maintain that their individual technologies allow the genetic analysis of seeds without affecting the productive ability of tested seeds.
Disputes between the two seed majors are not new. Last year, DuPont’s Pioneer seed unit sued Monsanto for infringing patents that allow genetically modified corn seeds to germinate. Both companies are in a race to identify genetically desirable traits of seeds, improve them, and market them as the prices of food-grains keep soaring across the world.
The case is Monsanto Co. and Monsanto Technology LLC v. Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc. and E.I. Du Pont de Nemours and Co. 12cv1090, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, St. Louis.