A federal jury has awarded Monsanto Company a $1 billion settlement in a patent infringement lawsuit the company filed against DuPont regarding Roundup Ready seed technology.
The settlement is the largest U.S. jury verdict for 2012 to date.
The jury found that DuPont willfully infringed upon Monsanto’s patent for glyphosate-resistant seeds, by stacking its own glyphosate-resistant trait into its Optimum GAT soybean seed along with Monsanto’s Roundup Ready trait. The 2002 licensing agreement in question stated that DuPont could use Monsanto’s Roundup Ready trait, but that DuPont did not have the right to stack the trait.
"The court ruled that the Monsanto and DuPont license agreements are unambiguous and do not grant Pioneer the right to stack the Roundup Ready trait with the Optimum GAT trait," says Scott Partridge, chief deputy general counsel for Monsanto. "DuPont negotiated and signed a contract with a specific set of rights, at the financial terms they preferred, and the rights did not include making this stacked combination."
Monsanto filed the suit against DuPont in 2009.
DuPont, meanwhile, alleges that Monsanto improperly filed its patent and will appeal the verdict, according to Thomas Sager, DuPont senior vice president and general counsel.
"DuPont believes that the evidence presented during the trial demonstrated clearly that Monsanto’s Roundup Ready soybean patent [RE 39,247] is invalid and unenforceable," Sager reports. "Further, DuPont believes that the damages awarded of $1 billion are unjustified, particularly considering that Pioneer has never sold a single Optimum GAT seed and has no plans to do so in the future."
Sager adds that more details will be presented to a new jury as part of the DuPont antitrust and patent misuse case against Monsanto in September.