Of Seeds and the Supreme Court: Patent Prevents Farmers from Saving and Re-Planting Seeds

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Wysebridge Patent Bar Review recaps the Supreme Court's decision regarding re-planting patented seeds and the impact on the patent landscape.

"inventions are becoming ever more prevalent, complex, and diverse."

Wysebridge Patent Bar Review, a company built on assisting individuals study and pass the Patent Bar Examination, responds to last weeks Supreme court findings in Bowman v. Monsanto Company (Supreme Court 2013), and the continued news coverage of this case. As a company focused on helping individuals become patent agents / attorneys, being aware of important patent cases, and the impact patent law has on society, is an essential pat of Wysebridge's company vision.

On May 13, 2013, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously in Bowman v. Monsanto Co., No. 11-796, agreeing with Monsanto holding that the patent exhaustion defense, "does not permit a farmer to reproduce patented seeds through planting and harvesting without the patent holder’s permission."

In brief, anyone who purchases or obtains "Roundup Ready" soybean seeds (the patented seeds from Monsanto) is required to agree to a unique licensing agreement, which limits the grower from planting the seed in more than one season. In short, the person may consume, or sell, resulting crops from these planted seeds, but is precluded from saving harvested soybeans for replanting, ever. This was a way for Monsanto to ensure that individuals would be required to purchase "new" seeds for each and every subsequent crop, and thus, pay Monsanto a fee for each new crop.

Interesting, the ruling casts a potential shadow into other areas of patentability, including modern agriculture and patents based on software, cellular processes and cell lines, vaccines, and other replicating "creations". While the court was certain to spell out that this specific decision was limited to this case, the court also hinted at the changing landscape of patents, intellectual property, and thus by proxy, the role of patent agents, patent attorneys, and the growing effect on society.

Writing on behalf of the Supreme Court, Justice Elena Kagan had this to say: “Our holding today is limited — addressing the situation before us, rather than every one involving a self-replicating product. We recognize that such inventions are becoming ever more prevalent, complex and diverse."

Wysebridge Patent Bar Review has found that in the midst of the changing economic time, cases such as this highlight the ever growing impact patents and intellectual property are having on society. In turn, the roles of patent agents and attorneys are coming more into the limelight, as companies and businesses are seeking ways to not only protect themselves and their patentable material, but walk through this changing landscape as well.

"Now, more than ever, individuals with technical and science backgrounds should consider becoming a patent practitioner," says Bryan Doreian, president of Wysebridge Patent Bar Review.

With the USPTO looking to hire ~1000 patent examiners during the 2013 FY, opportunities to begin a career in patent law are still available, and as the market grows, so will the demand for qualified patent agents and patent attorneys.

You can follow Wysebridge Patent Bar Review using a variety of social media sites, including Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn Stay updated on the latest tips, study suggestions, exam changes, and intellectual property updates.

About Wysebridge Patent Bar Review
Wysebridge Patent Bar Review is an information and educational company formed in 2012 dedicated to assisting individuals study for and pass the patent bar exam.

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Bryan Doreian, PhD
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