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DuPont Seeks New Trial in $1 Billion Monsanto Patent Victory

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Sept. 27 (Bloomberg) -- DuPont Co. asked a U.S. judge to overturn a $1 billion verdict won by Monsanto Co. in August over genetically modified soybeans, saying the jury got it wrong on all counts.

Monsanto’s patent on genetically modified crops that survive the weedkiller Roundup is invalid, it wasn’t infringed, and the damage award was too high, DuPont said in a series of filings yesterday in federal court in Monsanto’s hometown of St. Louis.

Monsanto and DuPont are the two biggest companies in the $34 billion commercial seed market. The jury on Aug. 1 decided DuPont willfully infringed the patent by making soybeans that combined the Roundup Ready trait with a similar DuPont technology known as GAT.

Monsanto argued during the trial that DuPont violated a licensing agreement and infringed the patent when it began making soybeans that added the GAT trait. DuPont made the combination to patch problems with GAT, Monsanto said.

DuPont claims the Roundup Ready patent doesn’t adequately describe what it claims to have invented, is little different from earlier inventions and fails other requirements to be valid. It seeks to have the damage award reduced or thrown out, or that DuPont be given a new trial on damages.

The legal arguments backing up DuPont’s requests are sealed, as many of the documents in the case have been.

Monsanto is scheduled to file its response by Oct. 25.

Alternative Product

Wilmington, Delaware-based DuPont, which generated $38 billion in revenue last year, never commercialized its product combining Roundup Ready and GAT. Monsanto lawyers argued at trial that DuPont shouldn’t have begun research on its alternative product until the patent expires in September 2014.

DuPont also claimed Monsanto uses monopoly power to stifle innovation, restricting use of Roundup Ready while making it difficult for other companies to develop a competing trait. Those antitrust claims were split off, and the two sides yesterday proposed the trial be scheduled for October.

Monsanto has another case pending against DuPont and its Pioneer Hi-Bred unit over a way to examine the genetics of a seed without harming its ability to grow. DuPont contends the patents in that case are invalid and not infringed. Pioneer has its own case pending against Monsanto over a defoliaton technique that increases the vigor of corn seed.

The case is Monsanto Co. v. E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., 09cv686, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Missouri (St. Louis).

To contact the reporters on this story: Jack Kaskey in Houston at jkaskey@bloomberg.net; Susan Decker in Washington at sdecker1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Steven Frank at sfrank9@bloomberg.net Bernard Kohn at bkohn2@bloomberg.net

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