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Monsanto Wins Case Over Patented Canola

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the blowing-in-the-wind dept.

Biotech 599

c writes "The Supreme Court of Canada says that you're liable if a plant with a patented gene infects your property. If you recall, Schmeiser claims (and research supports) that Roundup Ready canola seeds infected his own crops. Monsanto prosecuted him for patent infringement." Some other links: Monsanto's press release, Globe and Mail story.

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So, it spreads itself... (4, Interesting)

Allen Zadr (767458) | more than 10 years ago | (#9219879)

I would have thought that genetically modified crops would be unable to reproduce by some manipulation. I'm quite surprised to hear from the articles and research linked that this is not the case.

I imagine the purists who want full organic food may be surprised that thier food may be cross-polinated with a genetic crop.

Re:So, it spreads itself... (2, Informative)

Altus (1034) | more than 10 years ago | (#9219935)


I got the impression from the article that the seeds blew into his land from a neigboring farm... probably before they germinated at all. i dont think this is a cross polenation issue.

Re:So, it spreads itself... (2, Interesting)

Allen Zadr (767458) | more than 10 years ago | (#9220156)

If you click the "research supports this" link, you'll see what I'm referring to. Basically, a whole bunch of supposedly "pure" crops came up as round-up resistant.

Really interesting read.

Re:So, it spreads itself... (1)

Altus (1034) | more than 10 years ago | (#9220190)

sounds very intersting. Were the crop lines with this gene in them supposed to be sterile?

If so that is seriously alarming.

Re:So, it spreads itself... (4, Interesting)

macmaniac (734596) | more than 10 years ago | (#9219938)

I would have thought that genetically modified crops would be unable to reproduce by some manipulation. I'm quite surprised to hear from the articles and research linked that this is not the case.
They may be modified somewhat, but in order to make it so that crops would not reproduce, you would probably have to create an entirely new method for them to bear fruit or whatever crop they use, since this process is naturally cared for by pollenization, part of the reproductive process of most plants.... Even if they managed to produce such a modification, since they were created/modified by humans, error is inevitable, like what happened in the movie Jurassic Park.

Jurassic plant? (1)

Allen Zadr (767458) | more than 10 years ago | (#9220184)

Somehow I doubt that my canola oil (plant) is going to disembowl me.

There's a natural order to things... I eat canola, not the other way around.

Re:So, it spreads itself... (5, Insightful)

cemaco (665884) | more than 10 years ago | (#9219951)

Not all genetically altered crops are sterile. To be honest I think they should be. That way it's easier to remove them from the food chain if we find out down the line that there is a problem.

Re:So, it spreads itself... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9220069)

I believe Monsanto's seeds are supposed to be sterile. It proves the saying true: Nature will find a way.

Re:So, it spreads itself... (2, Insightful)

wash23 (735420) | more than 10 years ago | (#9220155)

Some crops have a "suicide gene" that renders seeds sterile. To some critics this seems like a bad idea (fears that this gene could contaminate a natural plant and cause an extinction), although I suspect that's not very likely given it doesn't have much of a chance to propagate.

Still, if everybody switched and we became reliant upon a crop that could not produce viable seeds... Well, that's a frightening idea. Imagine if we lived through the coming water wars only to find all our seeds are sterilized monsanto seeds, and of course there's no such thing as roundup in the post-apocalyptic dystopia :)

Re:So, it spreads itself... (1, Flamebait)

hsidhu (184286) | more than 10 years ago | (#9219980)

Say good bye to you food supply, we are going to be completely bitched by mega corps, wait till genetically modified foods infect everything out there and all you have is just the genetically engineered strand out there.

Woo hooo.

Re:So, it spreads itself... (1)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 10 years ago | (#9220099)

I think this is why anti-GM food protesters are so outspoken in their criticism. This is like a genie that would be very difficult to put back into the bottle if it turns out that GM food is unhealthy. For the record, I'm still undecided on the issue.

no, we're not surprised... (5, Interesting)

zogger (617870) | more than 10 years ago | (#9220132)

..what we are surpirsed is that 99% of the population has no clue about the food they eat other than it comes from the supermarket automagically.

We've been lobbying against this stuff for years, for that very reason, it infects our stuff, and then they claim ownership? Huh? Howzzat again?

Just wait. If you are just hearing about roundup ready and cross pollination and infection, wait to you hear about terminator genes and cross pollination. Ohh, that's a goody. Makes a plant live one year, then all it's offspring is infertile. Think on that one for a bit. Think about the winds, how they cross borders, let alone mere fields and counties. Give it a few years once they start using that sort of seed, you'll have one company "owning" the planets food supply, then their stuff will get borken and--not much food at all. It very easily could happen, you aren't stopping the wind.

Lotta groovy short term profits though, until that happens.

After that, can't say. Most likely world class famine at a minimum.

Re:So, it spreads itself... (3, Funny)

Graff (532189) | more than 10 years ago | (#9220181)

I imagine the purists who want full organic food may be surprised that thier food may be cross-polinated with a genetic crop.

I would imagine that the crops are still organic, being that they grow and are composed mostly of carbon molecules and water...

I'm sure that this crop is a lot tastier and nutritious than the INorganic rocks and dirt that are just lying around!

First genetically modified post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9219882)

n/t

Glad we're not the only ones! (5, Insightful)

RobertB-DC (622190) | more than 10 years ago | (#9219887)

I guess this proves that we south-side folks aren't the only ones whose judiciary occasionally suffers from recto-cranial inversion, as shown by these two statements from Monsanto's own press release:

Monsanto originally pursued this case in the Federal Court of Canada because Mr. Schmeiser knowingly infringed Monsanto's patents on Roundup Ready technology by planting 1,030 acres of Roundup Ready canola without paying the required license fee for using the technology.

Ok, you say he purposely planted a strain of seed whose sole claim to fame is that Monsanto's herbicides don't kill it. But then:

However, the Supreme Court determined there was insufficient evidence that Mr. Schmeiser intentionally made use of the benefits provided by Monsanto's technology by spraying his crop with Roundup.

What? The guy planted this bastardized seed, supposedly on purpose, then didn't do the one thing that the seed is good for -- spraying with poison?

No wonder Monsanto sued. They're pi^h^h upset that he didn't buy the matching 55-gallon drums of Roundup. They couldn't have cared less if the guy used the patented seed -- they'd probably give it away for free if they could force the recipients to use their also-patented herbicide.

I'm waiting for someone to swipe some of these Frankenseeds and create Roundup-resistant dandelions. That'll teach 'em!

Re:Glad we're not the only ones! (1)

irokitt (663593) | more than 10 years ago | (#9219927)


Roundup-resistant dandelions

Great, time to fire the lawnmower up again.

Re:Glad we're not the only ones! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9219939)

Round-up ready weeds...now that's actually a good idea ;)

Re:Glad we're not the only ones! (1)

RickHunter (103108) | more than 10 years ago | (#9220014)

I'm waiting for someone to swipe some of these Frankenseeds and create Roundup-resistant dandelions. That'll teach 'em!

That'd be a great way to make it clear to Monsato that the civilized world won't stand for their shit, no matter what they've managed to bribe the courts into saying. Unfortunately, I strongly doubt there are any biologists out there with the guts and the resources necessary to do such a thing.

Roundup-resistant dandelions. (3, Informative)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 10 years ago | (#9220050)

It's already happening:

http://www.cropchoice.com/leadstry.asp?recid=877

You've got to laugh. Who would have thought that evolution would be developing it's own roundup resistance. Damn that Charles Darwin.

Maybe the Monsanto executives are creationists.

Re:Glad we're not the only ones! (2, Interesting)

OmegaGeek (586893) | more than 10 years ago | (#9220203)

No wonder Monsanto sued. They're pi^h^h upset that he didn't buy the matching 55-gallon drums of Roundup. They couldn't have cared less if the guy used the patented seed -- they'd probably give it away for free if they could force the recipients to use their also-patented herbicide.

Careful - Monsanto might sue you for revealing their marketing plan without proper authority! But seriously, Gillette figured this out years ago - they money's in selling the razor blades, not the razors.

What can I patent? (2, Insightful)

SnowDeath (157414) | more than 10 years ago | (#9219898)

Perhaps Air? Sorry, you have to have a license to breathe that air! Patenting genes and software are just baaaaad ideas IMHO.

Re:What can I patent? (1)

Thuktun (221615) | more than 10 years ago | (#9220042)

Perhaps Air? Sorry, you have to have a license to breathe that air! Patenting genes and software are just baaaaad ideas IMHO.

More like someone patenting a particular fragrance and trying to charge you money for enjoying the smell when it wafts up your nose. (At least if the claim that it invaded his field without his intervention is to be believed.)

Re:What can I patent? (1)

tdemark (512406) | more than 10 years ago | (#9220123)

Perfumes and fragrances cannot be patented [teachsoap.com] .

(Sorry ... that's the best link I can come up with via a quick Google).

- Tony

Wait a minute... (5, Interesting)

Punboy (737239) | more than 10 years ago | (#9219911)

Shouldn't this situation be reversed? The defendant should sue the other guy for damaging his crops!

Re:Wait a minute... (0, Redundant)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#9220008)

Yep... that seems like a perfectly logical lawsuit to me. Too bad the defendant didn't seem to have been smart enough to make that claim to drag the other farmers in the area into the lawsuit.

Re:Wait a minute... (1, Funny)

bofkentucky (555107) | more than 10 years ago | (#9220022)

You got chocolate in my peanut butter
You got peanut butter in my chocolate

In related news... (5, Funny)

k4_pacific (736911) | more than 10 years ago | (#9219912)

A local man injured by stray gunfire was arrested for stealing bullets.

Re:In related news... (1)

Stevyn (691306) | more than 10 years ago | (#9220000)

Hey! I copywrited that joke 2 days ago! I'll see your ass in court!

Great quote (2, Funny)

gphinch (722686) | more than 10 years ago | (#9219918)

"By cultivating a plant containing the patented gene and composed of the patented cells without license, [the Schmeisers] thus deprived Monsanto of the full enjoyment of its monopoly." Even better is that for some reason my brain was switched off and I kept reading Monsanto as Microsoft.

Monsanto lobbies to repeal of laws of nature? (4, Insightful)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#9219922)


This really does seem to me to be a sticky issue...

It's impossible for a farmer to build a barrier to stop unwanted seeds from falling in. That's why they have to rely on weed-killing products and such to kill off what they didn't plant. Of course, the most common weed-killing product being RoundUp, and this being something designed to allow the canola to be ready for the use of RoundUp, that solution just plain isn't gonna work.

On the other hand, patents exist to allow companies to profit from their innovations. If Monsanto's patented genes are allowed to escape into the wild, then their monopoly privledge is lost and there goes any reason to create such innovations.

If anything, the burden should be placed on the farmers using the licensed seeds to control their plants so that they don't endup allowing seeds to go "into the wild".

This problem is only going to get worse before it gets better. There's a worse case that hasn't been encountered yet. If the consumer marketplace ends up with genetically modified apples that aren't intentionally seedless, then who knows where those apple seeds might wind up. If that modification turns up to be dominant, then non-modified apple trees are going to have a fight with the force of evolution.

Re:Monsanto lobbies to repeal of laws of nature? (4, Insightful)

k12linux (627320) | more than 10 years ago | (#9220019)

So, if I write a virus which has a sole purpose of installing security patches on a network.. and I sell this as a service some company with the instructions that the "software" must be contained within their network... wouldn't it be similar? I mean, if the virus does escape and infects millions of computers, now I can sue people for using my patented technology to update their PCs.

No, I think if a patented item can spread itself without the consent of the recipient, then they sure as hell can't be expected to pay for it.

Re:Monsanto lobbies to repeal of laws of nature? (4, Interesting)

bear_phillips (165929) | more than 10 years ago | (#9220030)

f anything, the burden should be placed on the farmers using the licensed seeds to control their plants

I would guess that Schmeiser could sue the other farm that let the seeds blow onto his crops. The "pollution" of his fields caused him an economic damage. He cant use the seeds now because he is not licensed. In Texas,Kansas etc farmers get paid if an oil line spills onto their crop, I don't see how "seed pollution" should be any different.

Re:Monsanto lobbies to repeal of laws of nature? (2, Insightful)

Otter (3800) | more than 10 years ago | (#9220046)

One obvious answer is to produce strains that don't produce viable seeds. Of course, when Monsanto tried that with corn they were horrible monsters trying to enslave every hungry farmer on the planet. (Never mind that pretty much all corn seed in developed countries is F1 hybrid seed that doesn't generate useful seeds anyway.)

Or we could declare that all plants and animals produced before 1985 are Natural (as though Noah had Holstein cows on the ark) and everything else is Frankenfood, from which we must recoil in terror. Outside of North America, that seems to be the case.

In fact, I'm not sure that caution isn't the right idea, but it's unfortunate that that view was reached out of pure superstition.

Re:Monsanto lobbies to repeal of laws of nature? (1)

Otto (17870) | more than 10 years ago | (#9220064)

This problem is only going to get worse before it gets better. There's a worse case that hasn't been encountered yet. If the consumer marketplace ends up with genetically modified apples that aren't intentionally seedless, then who knows where those apple seeds might wind up. If that modification turns up to be dominant, then non-modified apple trees are going to have a fight with the force of evolution.

I was under the impression that you almost never planted apples from seed because apples don't breed true. All modern apple growing works from budding or grafting or some such thing.

Am I wrong somehow?

Re:Monsanto lobbies to repeal of laws of nature? (3, Insightful)

psykocrime (61037) | more than 10 years ago | (#9220071)

If Monsanto's patented genes are allowed to escape into the wild, then their monopoly privledge is lost and there goes any reason to create such innovations.

That's just not true. It's not **necessary** to have a monopoly to make a profit. Patents are only a limited-time monopoly anyway, and serve to ensure that innovations will (eventually) make their way into the public domain... Yes a monopoly helps, but it's entirely reasonable for a company to need to compete on things like price, quality, customer service, etc., in the absence of a monopoly. And the company that comes out with an innovation is still going to have "first to market" advantage, and possible "trade secret" status for their innovation. There would still be reasons to innovate even if there were no patents.

Truth be told, patents today have become more of a hindrance to business than anything. Especially smaller companies / solo inventors without the funding for armies of patent attorneys to research, file, and litigate over these things.

In other news (3, Insightful)

pavon (30274) | more than 10 years ago | (#9220084)

In light of it's recent success, Monsanto plans on suing the Sun, rain and Canadian soil for growing canola plants without proper patent licencing. A spokesman was quoted as saying "The forces of nature must be brought to respect our intelectual property."

I mean, L Ron Fucking Hubbard, how can you ban the replication of a self-replicating device! I'm sorry but that is just plain asinine. Not all ventures in this world are profitable and if I have to wait a few more years for Government funded research to develop this these things, then it won't bother me a bit.

so... (0, Offtopic)

ed.han (444783) | more than 10 years ago | (#9219923)

how's the human genome project doing?

ed

Re:so... (1)

orasio (188021) | more than 10 years ago | (#9220202)

I believe it's relevant to the topic. The human genome is not patentable, at least in most countries.

If you recall... (2, Insightful)

cperciva (102828) | more than 10 years ago | (#9219956)

Schmeiser claims that Roundup Ready canola seeds infected his own crops

The courts, on the other hand, found that the appellants knew or ought to have known that they saved and planted seed containing the patented gene [umontreal.ca] .

This "they contaminated my crops" claim is purely for the benefit of the media; he knew that he was planting Monsanto canola.

Re:If you recall... (1)

RickHunter (103108) | more than 10 years ago | (#9220037)

In other words, the farmer was assumed to know the exact genetic composition of the seeds he was planting. Why would he have known and then not proceeded to buy and use RoundUp?

Re:If you recall... (3, Insightful)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#9220065)

This "they contaminated my crops" claim is purely for the benefit of the media; he knew that he was planting Monsanto canola.

It's a totally invalid defense against Monsanto's lawsuit. However, it'd be a very interesting claim to persue against the other farmers in the area who pay for Monsanto's patent license.

I'd like to see there be a ruling that says if you use genetically modified products that you have the responsiblity to preventing the seeds from leaving your property.

He should have gotten seeds from his property that didn't contain Monsanto's modification. The fact that he didn't means that he was poluted upon...

Re:If you recall... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9220095)

The defendant knew that he was planting the seed he saved from his own "not Roudup Ready" crop, even though he believed that some cross pollination may have occurred the prior season.

Re:If you recall... (1)

Recovery1 (217499) | more than 10 years ago | (#9220102)

How is he supposed to have known. At the time this all came about things like genetically modified canola was not well known. Sure he saw something unusual growing in his ditch that didn't die from regular weed killer. He did what any other farmer would have done, he sent the results in, and it was well into the next spring as I recall when he even got the results, long after the new crop had been planted.

Re:If you recall... (4, Insightful)

Bagheera (71311) | more than 10 years ago | (#9220134)

I haven't followed the case extensively, but as I understand it he was planting seeds that were saved from the previous year's harvest. Something farmers have been doing for, oh, say, 8000 years.

He was not, then, planting Monsanto's canola. He was planting HIS canola. That the Monsanto engineered plants were still viable was not his fault, it was theirs. Arguably, he is not infringing their patents because he either A: has already payed to get the engineered seed, or B: it was non-engineered seed that was polinated by Engineered stock - which is not his fault.

If Monsanto can't keep a lid on their genetic engineering projects, that's their problem. And, if the Greens are to be believed, everyone elses "problem" too.

Killing Roundup Ready Plants (5, Interesting)

zentinal (602572) | more than 10 years ago | (#9219964)

Would it be legal for someone to come up with a material that only kills Roundup Ready©® plants?

Re:Killing Roundup Ready Plants (5, Funny)

happyfrogcow (708359) | more than 10 years ago | (#9220049)

..what, like a crop duster that throws lawyers out of the plane onto the offending crops?

but seriously...

probably. if you can be sued for inadvertantly having these crops in your property, then fair use would seem to dictate that you have the right to reverse engineer the product. if you weren't, and only Monsanto were allowed to do so, then they could somehow promote the spreading of their product (the crop) to create a need for a RoundupReady Plant Killer. The situation would be like antivirus companies spreading new computer viruses, and you can only use their av software to eliminate their viruses.

Re:Killing Roundup Ready Plants (1)

T5 (308759) | more than 10 years ago | (#9220098)

Diesel fuel and/or gasoline. Universal herbicide.

Add well-placed lit match to speed up the process...

Just a little factoid that may make a difference. (4, Informative)

Thalia (42305) | more than 10 years ago | (#9219965)

The Schmeissers admitted that they were aware it was RoundupReady Canola (having tested it specifically), and then they saved the seeds & sowed it the next year in their fields. THIS is what they were being sued over, not the fact that the seeds that blew onto their property germinated on their own. It was the seed saving, of known patented seeds that was considered an infringement.

And you may note, if you read the opinion, that the issue addressed was only the patentability of genetically modified seeds.

Thalia

Re:Just a little factoid that may make a differenc (1)

Pxtl (151020) | more than 10 years ago | (#9220028)

In that case, they should have sued Monsanto for contaminating their seeds with unusable seeds. Unless the supremes want to go searching through and picking out all the seeds with little "monsanto" labels on them so they can reseed.

Or maybe those supremes could pay for new seeds rather than just letting the farmers reseed themselves.

Re:Just a little factoid that may make a differenc (2, Informative)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 10 years ago | (#9220029)

The other interesting factoid is that the damages awarded were $0 because the Schmeissers did not spray their crops with RoundUp, thus they did not receive any benefit from the gene.

Re:Just a little factoid that may make a differenc (5, Insightful)

Auckerman (223266) | more than 10 years ago | (#9220167)

"It was the seed saving, of known patented seeds that was considered an infringement."

Patents gives one the right to reproduce something. When the object that is patented reproduces itself on MY land, then the resulting product is MINE. That simple. You have NEVER needed a license to USE a patented product. Don't let companies convice you that one does. Copyright people have already come close to convincing the US that you need a license to use software.

The goal of the plant is to grow and reproduce. When it does that, the patented object is doing EXACTLY what the company intened it to do and hence no patent protection should be violated. That simple.

liability (1)

happyfrogcow (708359) | more than 10 years ago | (#9219966)

Ok, so i'm liable if i use this seed, known use or without knowing.

But will Monsanto be liable if this genetically altered crop starts causing cancer, or contamination to the water supply, directly or indirectly (like it kills prarie dogs or something, and the prarie dogs carcasses spread disease)? Probably not, they'll litigate their way out of it somehow, I can see it. So if a flock of birds carries the crop seed over to my farm, i'm liable. any indirect harm caused by their seeds and they should be liable too.

What total bullshit (4, Insightful)

1010011010 (53039) | more than 10 years ago | (#9219972)

So, wind and bees are now Agents of Intellectual Property Theft.

Give me a fucking break.

Re:What total bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9220124)

So, wind and bees are now Agents of Intellectual Property Theft.

I know this is /. and no one r's tfa, but you could at least read the comments that summarize the article. This isn't about people getting sued over contaminated crops. It's about people taking contaminated crops, testing them to see that they have the Monsato genes, and then planting a new generation of crops with the genes and not paying Monsato the royalties for their patented herbicide resistance. Like it or not, Monsato is in the right here (legally, anyway).

Re:What total bullshit (3, Insightful)

Paulrothrock (685079) | more than 10 years ago | (#9220130)

Don't forget that the plants themselves are agents of intellectual property theft because they can reproduce. What happens when a third world farmer plants these seeds, grows a crop, and then saves some of that crop (say, some corn kernels) to plant next season? THAT MAN HAS JUST COMMITTED THEFT. He's just doing what people have done forever, taking advantage of the fact that plants produce seeds that can be planted to make more seeds.

What happens when some of it spills on the way to market? Since it doesn't look any different than regular corn, gets grown by him next year, totally by accident. It breeds with other, normal corn, and the gene spreads. Will he get sued by Monsanto for patent infringement because he spilled some corn kernels that happened to breed with regular corn? This case allows for a precedent.

Yes, I realize that this guy has been found to have intentionally planted it, but don't think for a second that Monsanto wouldn't be pushing us down the slippery slope towards a world where every seed has to be picked up off of a field lest they lose profits.

Patenting things that can copy themselves is lunacy.

Re:What total bullshit (1)

CodeMonkey4Hire (773870) | more than 10 years ago | (#9220148)

Yes, I will sue anyone using the birds and the bees. (If I can't get any*, no one can!)

* Yup, I'm married.

Well (2, Interesting)

abe ferlman (205607) | more than 10 years ago | (#9219973)

Can't move to Canada now if Bush is reelected. Is Russia really the land of the free now? allofmp3.com hasn't been shut down yet.

Re:Well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9220089)

Errr, yeah, genius. Putin's Russia is absolutely the land of freedom. Read a fucking newspaper -- there's a lot going on in the world besides warezing.

Whatever you do, get out now! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9220109)

We don't want you here.

Another case of protest first, think later... (3, Insightful)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#9219976)

Somehow, I think the environmentalist interests are lined up on the wrong side of this football.

The should have been against this ruling. Effectively, this allows the marketers of genetically modified plants to not place any limits on where the seeds containing their genes go. If they naturally blow into another farmers farm and "infect" their crops, then future generations of their crops will by evolution inherit the modification.

Instead, they seem to be supporting the farmer on the "anything that costs Monsanto profits is good for us" strategy. That's just not right sometimes... any financial loss for Monsanto might slow down their research, but it's certainly not enough to stop the company. The goal should be smart regulation, not elimination...

Re:Another case of protest first, think later... (2, Informative)

wes33 (698200) | more than 10 years ago | (#9220031)

please check the article -- this farmer had more than 1000 acres planted and 95% was roundup ready canola. You still think it just "blew there"?

Re:Another case of protest first, think later... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9220133)

this is LostCluster you're replying to.

he doesn't really read the articles, he just breezes over the summaries and makes a well-engineered reply in order to gain karma (check his history).

not a troll per se, but just someone who has no life that craves attention

Re:Another case of protest first, think later... (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#9220192)

No... but the point is that he couldn't have made the transgression of planting the modified canola if he didn't have any.

Somebody minded in preventing the spread of genetic modifications should have asked just how in the world that was allowed to happen.

Higher life forms (4, Funny)

Rupert (28001) | more than 10 years ago | (#9219977)

According to this court, the most advanced patentable life form is higher than canola but lower than a mouse. We will therefore need another ruling before we know if Supreme Court Justices are patentable or not.

Business Plan (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9219978)

1) Engineer a breed of any crop that will choke out the natural breeds, like a weed
2) Get a patent
3) Toss it over your competitor's fence
4) ???
5) PROFIT!!!!!!!

In Related News: (5, Funny)

Paulrothrock (685079) | more than 10 years ago | (#9219984)

Monsanto Sues Itself

Frankenfood giant Monsanto sued itself today in what can only be described as absolute lunacy.

Claiming that the genetically modified corn it produced can reproduce itself without human assistance, Monsanto has sued itself for intellectual property infringement under the DMCA.

"It's clear that the corn is a decryption device because it can take the code we gave it and illegally copy itself," said Monsanto's legal head Hebert R. Pufinstuf. "The fact that this deprives us of profits leaves us only one recourse; we must sue ourselves for the profits lost by producing reproducing corn."

Slashdot 2021 (3, Funny)

elwell642 (754833) | more than 10 years ago | (#9219985)

May 21, 2021: AdmrlTaco writes "The Supreme Court of Canada says that you're liable if a human clone with a patented gene infects your property, citing Monsanto vs Schmeiser."

Rape victim sued. (2, Insightful)

www.sorehands.com (142825) | more than 10 years ago | (#9220128)

Date: January 12, 2022.


Canadian Supreme court upholds $25,000,000 against rape victim for patent infringement.

Jane Doe was raped on May 12, 2021 by Andrew Luster, VI. This rape caused Doe to become Pregnant with Luster's child. Since Luster was generically enhanced, and the enhancement was patented, this caused the Doe baby and the process used by Doe to create this child to infringe on Luster's patent.

The court was not convinced that Luster was himself liable for the patent violation or gave consent to the use of the license since the genetic material was obtained by rape and not by a mutually consented transfer.


The court did note that Luster was convicted and served 3 years for the rape and considered that sufficient payment for his negligence in the case.

Canola is also known as Rape Seed. (1)

The UberDork (689979) | more than 10 years ago | (#9220201)

Canola is also known as RapeSeed...

"Organic" crops (4, Interesting)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 10 years ago | (#9219988)

Farmers in the UK are going to have to be very careful over this one. "Organically" produced crops have a premium price here and one of the requirements to be classified as organic is no GM. If a neighbouring farmer's GM crop gets into an organic farmer's crop, there could well be financial penalties if the source of the contamination can be proven.

Muahahaha (4, Funny)

Experiment 626 (698257) | more than 10 years ago | (#9219989)

This has given me an idea for my next evil ploy for world domination:

  1. Develop highly contageous but otherwise harmless airborne bacterial stain
  2. Patent its genetic sequence
  3. Release into the wild
  4. Sit back and collect royalty payments from everyone using my technology

*insane cackling*

Chalk One Up for The Corporations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9219991)

And the family farmer gets screwed once again...

Virus Copyright (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9219993)

I wonder if I infect another company with a virus that contains code with a copyright, can they also be sued for similar things?

GPL (5, Funny)

minus_273 (174041) | more than 10 years ago | (#9219997)

heh reminds me of software accidentally infected with GPL code

Business plan (2, Funny)

Stallmanite (752733) | more than 10 years ago | (#9220007)

1. Patent any common technique worms use to spread
2. Sue every microsoftie in Canada
3. Profit

I don't get it (3, Insightful)

Auckerman (223266) | more than 10 years ago | (#9220009)

Something that is specifically designed to self replicate, does EXACTLY what it is meant to do and the person who owns the land and air it happens on is the one sued? Backwards thinking, if you ask me.

Lets say, I make a robot that makes an exact replica of itself from simple nuts and bolts. The way it makes a replica of itself is patented. One day that robot escapes and makes 100 copies of itself over at the local hardware store. Does that mean THEY are liable for my ineptness? I can sue them?

In my mind, it should be the other way around, the guy who had this patented crop end up on his land should be able to sue the patent holders for screwing up his property.

Self-replicating Robots (1)

Otto (17870) | more than 10 years ago | (#9220177)

I, for one, welcome our self-replicating robot overlords. I'd like to remind them that as a trusted Slashdot personality, I can be helpful in rounding up others to toil in their underground iron mines.

For you city folk... (4, Informative)

0xA (71424) | more than 10 years ago | (#9220012)

Canola is the very definition of hearty crop. It is a 3 foot high plant with yellow flowers and once it is established in an area it is almost impossible to get rid of. One of my earliest memories is listeneing to my dad complain about what the canola field across the road did to our lawn. I have absolutely no doubt that this poor guy never touched "Roundup Ready" seed in his life, he didn't have to.

Offspring licencing (4, Interesting)

manganese4 (726568) | more than 10 years ago | (#9220020)

So if we ever get to the point of inserting modfied DNA into the human genome to "cure" mutations that exist in family lines, will parents have to pay royalties in order to have children? Will it be on a child by child basis or will it be based on the number of attempts at insemmination? If you have a low sperm or egg count, will you get a discount?

Low flying plane (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9220024)

This is crap. Take a few hundred bags of this stuff and spread all over the place with a low flying plane. Oh, sorry Monsanto but your seed seems to be growing in the wild EVERYWHERE.

Re:Low flying plane (3, Interesting)

easter1916 (452058) | more than 10 years ago | (#9220146)

I contracted at Monsanto for a few years in Grower Marketing Programs (http://www.fuelyourprofits.com is an example of a project I worked on). To get those seeds, you have to sign a contract with Monsanto, and you would be screwed if you used them in a manner inconsistent with your contractual obligation.

"enjoyment of its monopoly." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9220032)

fun phrase in TFA: "thus deprived Monsanto of the full enjoyment of its monopoly."

So it was emotional distruss of depriving them from enjoyment?

Re:"enjoyment of its monopoly." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9220097)

this is in the legal sense, not in the emotional sense.

Misleading headline (3, Insightful)

GreenCrackBaby (203293) | more than 10 years ago | (#9220033)

I've yet to see a more trollish headline...

Regardless of how you feel about this case, this guy wasn't caught with a few plants that had blown into his field. He was collecting the seeds from the patented plant and planting them himself.

Personally, I think (shudder) Monsanto deserved to win this case. The farmer was infringing on Monsanto's patent, and this case really is as simple as that.

Re:Misleading headline (4, Informative)

Zach Fine (12869) | more than 10 years ago | (#9220187)

FWIW, Percy Schmeiser denies deliberately planting Monsanto seed, and states that Monsanto is lying outright about the percentage of his crops that were contaminated:

http://www.percyschmeiser.com/Monsanto%20Lying.htm [percyschmeiser.com]

He said, she said?

Re:Misleading headline (2, Informative)

91degrees (207121) | more than 10 years ago | (#9220207)

Regardless of how you feel about this case, this guy wasn't caught with a few plants that had blown into his field. He was collecting the seeds from the patented plant and planting them himself.

True, but he wasn't actually using the patented genes. If I understand correctly, the genes provide resistance to herbicides, and he wasn't using the herbicide. I always thought that technology was patented for a particular purpose. Evidently not.

Time To Go Organic (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9220039)

Now seems like a time to go organic and provide subsidies for it, rather than providing them for over producing then paying again to store the over produced foodstuffs.

This ruling is crazy and I hope it is overturned. Monsanto are evil for even taking this to court. It's like saying Iraqies are responsible for Americans going into Iraq. The person who sent them in is responsible in that case, and in this case the planting farmer should be responsible.
Even better, the tampering scum that create GM crops should be responsible for their abominations.

Rant over, so feel free to flame me to a crisp.

Innocence Is No Defense! (2, Insightful)

phliar (87116) | more than 10 years ago | (#9220045)

Just when it looks like the patent mess can't get any weirder, it does. I'm just waiting for some Tuttle/Buttle prosecution that's upheld.

Although in the USA, the day may be closer than we think: we have the Great and Wonderful Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. In response to DNA evidence that cleared a man on death row, he said that mere innocence is no grounds to overturn a judgement.

Re:Innocence Is No Defense! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9220062)

Source to back this up?

I know what the biotech lawyers would say . . . (1)

maximino (767005) | more than 10 years ago | (#9220051)

They'd tell you that every farmer should go out and license a patented plant variant every year. That way if this happens to you, you'd be able to point at the license fee you'd already paid as evidence that you respected intellectual property, that you didn't intend for this other strain to be on your property, etc. etc.

Of course you'll be forbidden from collecting seed to replant the next year or doing any breeding experiments of your own, but you don't want to be a PIRATE, do you?

Counter Sue Against Monsato .... (1)

Art Pollard (632734) | more than 10 years ago | (#9220073)

Technically, the farmer did infringe on the patent(s) of Monsato.

However, Monsato was involved in negligence in that they did not provide adequate protection to ensure that their plants seeds / pollen does not infect the plants on other farms.

Since it is now apparently possible for someone to be sued for having "infected" crops, it is up to the growers of GM crops to ensure that their crops do not "infect" others.

This all means that we are treading in new legal waters so it should be interesting seeing how this all shakes out.

My signature is a pizza.

Human Patents (4, Insightful)

amcox (588540) | more than 10 years ago | (#9220075)

So what happens when human genetic engeneering comes to fruition and a company owns the genes that you have in your body? Will you then be sued for having a child if the patented genes show up in his or her genome? Or will the child itself be brought to court as a being whose very existance violates intellectual property laws?

While this does seem a little alarmist, it pays to consider the extremes of our laws and policies before those extremes are reached. It would be a great failing of our legistative and legal system if such a case ever even came close to actuality.

Patent infringement upheld, but damages eliminated (4, Interesting)

mcg1969 (237263) | more than 10 years ago | (#9220100)

One important tidbit from this story that the poster failed to mention was that this ruling also eliminated the payment of damages, because the plaintiff failed to prove that the defendant received any additional profit as a result of the use of the patented seeds.

I quote: Since there was no evidence that he sprayed Roundup herbicide to reduce the weeks [sic], the majority said, there is no way to conclude that he gained any financial advantage.

A temporary setback... (5, Informative)

canwaf (240401) | more than 10 years ago | (#9220116)

I followed this case quite closely. Despite our highest court ruling in favour of Monsanto, all it would take is this to become an issue in our upcoming federal election (will be called this Sunday), and our patent law will be changed. Once the law is changed, the Monsanto case's precedent will be tossed aside, and we will get back on the right track.

Our (Canada's) patent law is quite out of date, it does not address the issues regarding patenting of genome, plants, organisms, and other living matter. Once it is brought up to date (not when, it would be political suicide for all parties not to protect farmers like Schmeiser), we will get things right.

All parties which are running in every riding have to deal with this the correct way.

- The new Conservative Party [conservative.ca] of Canada will stand to loose grassroots support if they do not protect the rights of farmers to save seed. Although I wouldn't vote for them because they have yet to release their platform... shuuush... they don't want people to know that yet.

- The Liberal Party [liberal.ca] of Canada will stand to loose support in Ontario where Schmeiser was situated, although it is slipping because the provincial government did a 180 in the first budget.

- The NDP [www.ndp.ca] hates GE food, says there is no viable market for the stuff, it should be labelled, etc etc. They would definitely protect the rights of the farmer to save the seed.

- And the Green Party [greenparty.ca] . This is a given, they don't like GE foods, they don't like GE anything, because it destroys biodiversity.

This is just a temporary setback. The justices here did not fully comprehend the severity of their decision, but they were forced to work within the framework of the laws given to them by Parliament in 1985. Things have changed, and this act of Parliament will be apart of our next election, and will be dealt with the next government.

Sick and twisted (3, Insightful)

Dark Bard (627623) | more than 10 years ago | (#9220121)

Isn't that like a rapist billing the rape victim for sexual favors? Or an oil company having a pipeline burst and flood a farmer's field so they charge the farmer for the oil rather than clean up the mess? In what sick and twisted Universe does this make any sense? Justice isn't blind it's a drooling moron.

Another corporate victory. (5, Informative)

sekensirazu (581164) | more than 10 years ago | (#9220143)

It's refreshing to see slashdotters responding (for the most part) on the obvious absurdity of this situation.

IM(not so)HO, Monsanto is crap.

Their Roundup Ready agreement, required for people to use their seed, includes the following provisions:

1) a $5/lb. "technology fee" for using the seed.
2) the right for Monsanto to come onto your property, unannounced, and investigate your crops for three or so years after you start using their seed.
3) a ridiculous liability for any damage due to violations of the agreement. The farmer is liable for 10s of times of damage actually caused. I think it is 100, but I'm not 100% sure on this point. This includes accidental cross-pollination of others' crops.

(What's even funnier is that research shows these crops neither require fewer pesticides nor produce greater yields.)

Additionally, because of the new trade regulations and the exporting of Western-style trade and intellectual property agreements across the world, six corporations (Cargill, Monsanto, etc...) virtually control the world grain trade. For example, most countries now, including the UK, there are seed registries from which a farmer must choose seed to grow. Trading of seed, a long-time tradition and promotion of biodiversity, is now illegal in the countries that subscribe to these agreements.

Also, after a "mysterious" adulteration too big for any one farmer to orchestrate in India, millions of livelihoods were lost because the government outlawed traditional mustard seed in favor of imported oils... All the while Monsanto is also engineering seeds that genetically terminate after one generation of crops, which would bankrupt the farmers in poorer countries bound by corporate legislation.

In short, corporations have seriously fucked entire local economies with gestapo policies like the one this article is reporting. It's less than funny, and a little bit more than serious.

If you want more information on this topic, I suggest Vandana Shiva's Stolen Harvest. She is a leading activist on these issues, and the book is a fascinating read.

So... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9220162)

If we can patent some of the genes in the corporate execs of Monsanto, can we stop *them* from reproducing? ;)

Great News (1)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 10 years ago | (#9220180)

This case sets a great precedent that will light the path once my pending patent is issued: "System and method for generation of acute rhinitis via aerosol or surface-contact distribution of self-replicating submicron particles."

My business plan calls for royalties of $199 per common cold, $699 per influenza case, and $2599 per enterprise-class SARS case. Or, you can subscribe to the "malady assurance" program for only $329 per annum; this will cover any and all respiratory tract infections you may acquire during the course of the coverage period.

Look for licensing compliance kiosks coming soon to the cold-rememdy aisle at a pharmacy or supermarket near you.

And in the real world today.... (3, Funny)

sane? (179855) | more than 10 years ago | (#9220186)

Monsanto were sued successfully for releasing a biohazard into the environment without any viable means to control it.

A spokesman said "We're really sorry, what the hell were we thinking, we have no idea what the long term effects of this are, let alone being able to sensible make profit from it. We're sorry; really sorry."

A judge was heard to remark "You ignorant bastards. How dare you play stupid corporate games with the livelihood and future of substanical numbers of people? You bastards are going to fry."

When did I fall through the wormhole ?

Both sides in the wrong (4, Informative)

untermensch (227534) | more than 10 years ago | (#9220204)

I very strongly disagree with the idea of being able to patent genetically altered crops, and I'm very suspicious about the motives of companies like Monsanto, but Schmeiser is obviously lying here. A few seeds from your neighbours field blowing across the road can't grow into the volume of crop that he had.

I'm from the same province as Schmeiser and I heard about him long before this whole Monsanto business. A friend of mine worked on a construction project around the area where Shmeiser lives, and Schmeiser was part of a coalition that was concerned about the effects of this project. He was completely uninformed about the entire project, and was an embarassment and liability to the people that were on the same side of the argument as him. Also, if you've ever seen any of the TV interviews with other farmers from around his area you can watch them roll their eyes and shake their heads in digust as soon as his name is mentioned.
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