Family Farmers Lawsuit Against Monsanto Grows

Prominent allies join the effort to reinstate the challenge to Monsanto patents from farmers who have been threatened with patent infringement.

  • lawsuit
    Monsanto's frivolous lawsuits against America's family farmers must stop.

  • lawsuit

The following article is posted with permission from Wood Prairie Farm.

Washington, D.C. – Eleven prominent law professors and 14 renowned organic, Biodynamic®, food safety and consumer non-profit organizations have filed separate briefs with the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit arguing farmers have the right to protect themselves from being accused of patent infringement by agricultural giant Monsanto. The brief by the law professors and the brief by the non-profit organizations were filed in support of the 75 family farmers, seed businesses, and agricultural organizations representing over 300,000 individuals and 4,500 farms that last year brought a protective legal action seeking a ruling that Monsanto could never sue them for patent infringement if they became contaminated by Monsanto's genetically modified seed. The case was dismissed by the district court in February 2012 and that dismissal is now pending review by the Court of Appeals. The plaintiffs recently filed their opening appeal brief with the appeals court.

“Monsanto continues to claim that Plaintiffs' concerns about being accused of patent infringement after being contaminated by Monsanto's transgenic seed are unsubstantiated and unjustified,” said attorney Dan Ravicher of the not-for-profit legal services organization Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT), which represents the plaintiffs in the suit against Monsanto known as Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association et al. v Monsanto. “But now two impeccable groups have joined with Plaintiffs in explaining to the Court of Appeals how real and legitimate their concerns really are, especially since Monsanto continues to refuse to simply promise never to sue contaminated farmers for patent infringement.”

The first group filing a brief in support of the OSGATA Plaintiffs includes eleven prominent law professors from throughout the United States, including Professor Margo Bagley of the University of Virginia School of Law, Professor Michael Burstein of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Professor Rochelle C. Dreyfuss of the New York University School of Law, Professor Brett Frischmann of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Professor Erika George of University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law, Professor Shubha Ghosh of the University of Wisconsin Law School, Professor Megan M. La Belle of the Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law, Professor Kali Murray of Marquette University Law School, Professor Ted Sichelman of the University of San Diego School of Law, Katherine J. Strandburg of the New York University School of Law, and Melissa Wasserman of the University of Illinois College of Law.

In their amicus brief the law professors point out that, “broad standing to challenge the validity of patents ensures that the courts can effectively play their critical role in screening out invalid patents.” They add, “In actions challenging the validity of a patent, the alleged injury is not only the risk of an infringement suit, but a present restraint on economic activity due to the presence of a potentially invalid exclusive right.” The law professors went on to note, “But the validity of issued patents is uncertain until they are tested in court. This uncertainty creates real and present risks for persons wishing to engage in economic activity that might be the subject of an issued patent….When a person is deterred from undertaking valuable activity by the risk that the activity may encroach on another’s exclusive rights, that person has incurred an actual, concrete and particularized injury.”

“We are grateful for the brilliant and powerful amici briefs submitted to the appeals court by these two stellar groups, supporting our family farmers’ quest for justice,” said Maine organic seed farmer Jim Gerritsen, President of lead Plaintiff, Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association. “An erroneous interpretation of law by a single judge is not going to cause our farmers to abandon our rights to farm the way we choose, to grow good food and good seed for our families and for our customers, free from Monsanto’s trespass and contamination. Denial of the property rights of American farmers is an attack on the property rights of every American. We will fight until family farmers receive justice.”

7/3/2013 1:59:58 PM

their products stink because they are in expirimental stage. They should provide anyone who wants to help expiriment a controlled environment. If they cannot, it is like you can sell me the right to be my own police officer near my home. I'll show my neighbours the paper you sold me and they cannot complain about the quality of my work or even the circumstances in which I do that. Why can't they? Because you sold me the product. Get it?

7/3/2013 1:52:59 PM

Like most of them. Did anyone allready think of doing it the american way? If they MAKE seeds to comply to the human will...they should make seeds that can not reproduce. Especially not through the air. That is Gods highway and they do not want to be on it. So I hold them responsible of any of their half baked product that only does half of what the maker (producer) wanted to controll about it. So it's like a car without tyres but allready on the market. Or better, a car that accidentally has wings end therefor sometimes starts to fly sponatiously. Yet it is not sold as a small airplane. It is sold as a car. So if it lands on my rooftop and I blame the owner, maybe the owner should put a claim to the producer that sold him a car. It souldn't have been able to land on my rooftop and if it should (!) it should not be called a car at the moment of sale.

2/5/2013 4:12:30 PM

I have worked for >30 years with environmental regulatory compliance. Any non-compliance is not a violation if it is "an act of God, an act war, or an act of omission of a third party." The farmer(s) that was/were found guilty of a patent infringement" should have won their case due to "drift" as an "act of God." Wow, this Judge should be removed. He is definitely in someones' "deep pockets."

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