DuPont Co. (DD) wants to invalidate Monsanto Co. (MON)’s patent on Roundup Ready soybeans only after it made $6.2 billion from the technology and then was caught adding it to its own seeds without permission, an attorney for the world’s biggest seed company told a jury.
“This is a simple case,” Monsanto’s lawyer George C. Lombardi said today in his closing arguments in the trial in St. Louis, which started July 9. “What’s really going on is taking something that doesn’t belong to you and using it for your benefit when you knew it was wrong.”
The trial revolves around Monsanto’s patent for making Roundup Ready crops, a technology at the heart of its $13.7 billion in annual revenue. Farmers have embraced the technology because it allows them to kill weeds with Roundup herbicide while leaving crops unscathed.
The companies are the two biggest in the $34 billion commercial seed market, which includes $13.3 billion of genetically modified seeds.
Monsanto argued at the trial that DuPont had no right to make hundreds of lines of soybeans combining the Roundup Ready trait with a similar DuPont technology known as GAT. The infringement is worth $1 billion, the St. Louis-based company claims.
“They didn’t think the patent was invalid while they were making $6.2 billion off of it between 2002 and 2011,” Lombardi said. “Now they come and say it is invalid.”
DuPont, based in Wilmington, Delaware, says Monsanto deceived the government to obtain the patent, rendering it unenforceable. Defense lawyer Leora Ben-Ami will deliver her client’s summation later today.
The Roundup Ready trait is engineered into more than 95 percent of soybeans, largely through licensing agreements, generating $22 billion in revenue in the past eight years for Monsanto and the more than 200 seed companies that license the technology, Lombardi, a partner in Chicago-based Winston & Strawn LLP, told the jury July 10 in opening statements.
Monsanto filed suit in 2009.
The case is Monsanto Co. v. E.I. duPont de Nemours & Co., 09-cv-686, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Missouri (St. Louis).
To contact the reporters on this story: Joe Whittington in St. Louis federal court at firstname.lastname@example.org; Andrew Harris in Chicago at email@example.com; Jack Kaskey in Houston at firstname.lastname@example.org.