The Monsanto judgment

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PRAVIN ANAND and DHRUV ANAND say Supreme Court decision is a lease of life for biotech innovation

The Supreme Court of India pronounced the most anticipated judgment on patent law issue in recent times on 8 January 2019, restoring the patent of Monsanto for Bt technology, which is now back in force and on the register of patents.

Pravin-Anand-Anand-and-Anand
Pravin Anand

The present issue in dispute having been wrongly touted as a Farmer David v Monsanto – a fight against a foreign Goliath, was a controversial one in which the Supreme Court appeared to have rightly considered as one involving the future of innovation in the field of biotechnology, in particularly agro-biotechnology, in India.

BACKGROUND OF DISPUTE

Monsanto has a patent over a novel artificial DNA construct that, when inserted into a plant, makes the plant bollworm resistant. Monsanto had licensed this technology to seed companies in India, including Nuziveedu (NSL) by sale of 50 donor seeds that incorporated the patented Bt technology of Monsanto.

Monsanto initiated a patent infringement action of their Bt patent against NSL pursuant to the termination of the licence agreement. Post termination, Nuziveedu continued to use the Bt patented technology and refused to pay the licence fees to Monsanto on the basis of the government-issued seed control order.

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