Bowman v. Monsanto Company


Bowmanv. Monsanto Company


Bowmanv. Monsanto Company (SCOTUS2013)

In2013, the Supreme Court heard a case involving Bowman and Monsantothe case involving the infringement of the patent rights in theUnited States. This case involves a giant agrochemical company VS asmall farmer. The former had sued the later for reusing the seeds ofgenetically engineered soya bean that had been purchased fromMonsanto the previous year. Acting in a pro bono basis, the accusedof the patent infringement Mr. Bowman was represented by Mark Waltersand working not on pro bono, Monsanto was represented by Seth Waxmanand the government of US was represented by Melissa Arbus Sherry(Bowmanv. Monsanto Co).This case involves a patent, as far as the legal system is concerned,a patent permits an inventor the right to prevent others from making,selling, using and offering to import or sell her patented article.In legal terms, the patent does not permit affirmative rights to apatented but it offers negative, exclusionary rights. This caseapplied a precedent law of Adams v. Burk. Here the plaintiff in thiscase assigned partial patent rights to a Boston company. The companywas licensed to produce and sell the patented coffin lids in Bostonand within a radius of ten miles in the city (Bowmanv. Monsanto Co).In this precedent case, Burke bought the coffin lids in Boston, theright to use the patented coffin lids had exhausted at the time ofsale and therefore Burke was free to use the patented lids anywhere,even far beyond the ten mile radius. We can say that the patentee hadreceived consideration, and by then it was no longer within themonopoly state of the patent. It is against the law, therefore, torestrict the use of property right or a patent. The law should ensurethat the patentee uses his patent rights without restrictions.


DoesExhaustion Apply in All Sales or Does Exhaustion Apply to ProgenySeeds?

Everyindividual agrees in the case of that thefirst authorized and unrestricted or unlimited sale of patentsexhausts the patent rights and that particular patented articlepermits the buyer to sell and use the patented article without thefear of the patented liability. The defendant is right when he arguesthat, for seeds, this patented right includes the right to sow theseseeds and the right to harvest (Bowmanv. Monsanto Co).We can argue that once a seed is purchased without restrictions, thepatent rights to use the seed are exhausted to that seed and to thegenerations of progeny. It is wrong for the plaintiff to complainthat the defendant has defiled the laws of the patent when he has notstated restrictions of how the patent is supposed to be used.

Thecase is not only about an industrial farmer in a developed countrylike The US, but also concerns the future of the global food systemsand has global implications. As a legal expert, it is important tosee the case under study in the global context where only a fewmultinational companies dominate the global production of food. Thecase requires more than application of legal jurisdiction because therelevance of the case does not only line in a narrow or shallowinterpretation of the law but it also lies in the context of theimportant basic aspects of the survival of human beings for food(Bowmanv. Monsanto Co).The case requires rational judgment from the court since foodsustainability, accessibility and security rely on the ability toaccess the land, seeds and water freely without any restrictions fromany party whatsoever. The Supreme Court made a unanimous decision byawarding Monsanto instead of Bowman in the case. &quotThe firstdoctrine states&quot states that when the holder of the patentcompletes an authorized of patented article, it is required that theholder of the patent ceases to own the rights in that article. Forinstance when one purchases Apple appliances like an iPhone, thecompany no longer have the right to control the use of that applianceafter its sale, use, destruction or virtually monitoring anythingthat happens to that appliance, despite holding a multitude ofvarious patents to the product. However, the law prohibits that evenafter the holder`s patent rights exhaust, the purchaser of the patentis prevented from creating or reproducing the patented productwithout the permission of the patent holder (Bowmanv. Monsanto Co).

The case involving Bowman VS Monsanto Co is very tricky and thereforeit requires full consensus between the parties to determine betweenthe plaintiff and the defendant who is on the right side of the lawand who is on the wrong side of the law (Bowmanv. Monsanto Co).Every party was on the right side if at all, the judges had to giveout rational judgment on the case. For instance, we can say that theargument by the defendant was valid when he says, &quotthatMonsanto`s patent rights in its Roundup Ready seed were exhaustedwhen Monsanto sold it to a farmer.&quot The problem that made thestatement to be rejected by Justice Kagan maybe is because thedefendant did not back his argument with enough legal support fromthe law of the patent. When the case is reviewed well, it can be seenthat the defendant did not go against the law of the patent. On theother hand, the court may be wrong or right when it stated thatplanting of the patent seed and harvesting the same crop, such assoybeans that was patented by Monsanto amounted to the reproductionof the patented seed in the long-run. As a legal advisor, it isimportant to determine the impacts of the law to both defendant andthe plaintiff in the case (Bowmanv. Monsanto Co).

It is very clear that the implications of the Supreme Court`s rulingwill be many and felt to a larger extent by the citizen of America.The impacts will affect the future of Agricultural innovationsgreatly in The US since many of the cases involving a patent livederive their decisions from this case as a patent (Bowmanv. Monsanto Co).

Fromthe judgment and the decisions that were made by the judges, it isquite clear that the exhaustion of the patent delimits the rights ofthe patent holders by removing the rights to prohibit or control theuse of invention immediately after an authorized sale of the patent.The exhaustion of the patent allows the buyer of the patented productto reproduce the same product like that produced by the holder of thepatent and, therefore, denies the patent holder his rights to own thepatent. In the case of Bowman VS Monsanto, the Federal Circuitdeclined to find exhaustion where Bowman used seeds even immediatelyafter purchasing an authorized seed for planting. The major reasonfor this was that the farmer was to come up with the same productslike that of the patent holder and, therefore, deny him the rights toown the patent (Bowmanv. Monsanto Co).


The issue, in this case, is that may the holder of the patent enforcetheir own rights on the goods of self-replicating technologies, forinstance replicating seeds, after an authorized sale or does it onlyapply to the original patented article?


Thedecision in this case will play an important role in the way thecorporations sell their patented goods and services to the consumersand will determine what extent the companies will control patenteesafter the sale of self-replicating or a product that can bereproduced. The defendant argue rationally that under the exhaustiondoctrine, once the product is sold to the purchaser has to controlthe way he wants to use the product immediately after owning it. Theplaintiff argues that the exhaustion only applies to specificproducts and the replication of the products is against the patentrights.


Adamsv. Burke, 84 U.S. 17 Wall. 453 453 (1873)

Bowmanv. Monsanto Company (SCOTUS 2013)