WASHINGTON, Dec. 23, 2014 – DuPont and Monsanto Co. have agreed to settle and dismiss their respective patent infringement lawsuits pending in U.S. District Court in St. Louis, possibly ending a long and bitter legal battle between the world’s two largest seed companies over patents related to seed technology.
The lawsuits involve claims by Monsanto that DuPont had infringed certain Monsanto seed chipping patents and claims by DuPont that Monsanto had infringed certain DuPont patents related to seed processing. Seed chipping involves using a robotic machine to clip off part of a seed to test its DNA without waiting for it to grow into a seedling, speeding up the plant breeding process.
The two companies said in a statement that the terms of the settlement were not disclosed. In an e-mail, Dan Turner, with DuPont corporate media relations, said the company could not comment on specific technologies. A spokesman for Monsanto did not immediately respond to a telephone message seeking comment.
The statement noted that the dismissal of the litigation follows a joint announcement in March 2013 related to a series of technology agreements as well as dismissal of lawsuits between the companies that also were pending in the federal court in St. Louis. “Upon dismissal of the current litigation, DuPont and Monsanto have no other litigation against each other,” the companies said in today’s statement.
In the March agreement, DuPont, which owns the Pioneer Hi-Bred seed company, said it would pay Monsanto at least $1.75 billion over 10 years for the rights to technology for genetically engineered soybeans that are resistant to the weed-killer Roundup. Most of the soybeans planted in the U.S. use the weed killer, known generically as glyphosate.
That same agreement wiped away a federal jury’s order from the previous August that DuPont pay Monsanto $1 billion for infringing on patents on the Roundup technology. In return, DuPont agreed to drop an antitrust lawsuit against Monsanto that had not gone to trial.
DuPont has battled for years with Monsanto, which controls the technology for making soybeans resistant to Roundup. More than 90 percent of the soybeans planted in the U.S. incorporate that technology.
The March agreement provided DuPont with the technology for Monsanto’s second generation of glyphosate-resistant soybeans, known as Roundup Ready 2 Yield. It also gained access to technology for soybeans immune to another herbicide called dicamba.
Additionally, DuPont obtained the rights to combine Monsanto’s patented genes with other genes to develop crops with multiple traits. The lawsuit was spurred by a disagreement over whether Pioneer was allowed to combine the Roundup Ready gene with its own herbicide-resistance technology.
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