DuPont Suit Claims Monsanto Infringed Corn Patent

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DuPont s Pioneer seed unit has sued Monsanto Co., claiming its arch-rival infringed on patents that help genetically modified corn seeds germinate.

The suit, filed Oct. 18, is the latest volley in a bitter fight between the duo for dominance in the lucrative U.S. corn seed industry.

In its lawsuit, filed in United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa, Pioneer Hi-Bred International claims that it owns patents on a method of enhancing the vigour of maize seeds by defoliating the plant at a particular point after pollination but before harvest, and on a maize seed and stand of maize seeds that have such enhanced vigour.

The suit alleges that Monsanto has been using the methods protected by Pioneer s patents and seeks reimbursement by Monsanto for any profits gained from the sale of products made with the patents, as well as damages.

The suit, which alleges Monsanto s infringement is willful and deliberate, does not seek a specific dollar amount in damages.

The patents, U.S. patent numbers 5,518,989 and 6,162,974, cover technologies that improve corn seed germination.

First filed in 1994, the patents have been used by Monsanto at its Constantine, Michigan, research site, Pioneer claimed in the lawsuit.

Pioneer also wants its attorney s fees reimbursed and Monsanto blocked from using the patented methods in the future.

Monsanto issued a statement following the lawsuit s filing, calling it baseless and without merit, and said the approach covered by DuPont s patent is not used in any of Monsanto s production fields.

This filing appears to be another in a series of frivolous claims initiated by DuPont against our business and aimed at distracting us from our mission of investing in and delivering new product offerings to farmers around the world. We will defend our business against this latest attack, the Monsanto statement said.

The two companies are bitter rivals. Separate from the patent infringement suit, the two have been locked in an ongoing court battle over a soured licensing agreement.

DuPont has accused Monsanto of illegal, anti-competitive behaviour and Monsanto claims DuPont has breached business ethics and violated the terms of licensing agreements.

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