Reaction was swift and strong today following the announcement by Syngenta that it had filed suit against Monsanto and five other companies for patent infringement of U.S. biotechnology patents.
Syngenta asserts that YieldGard and Herculex I insect-resistant corn products and Roundup Ready and Bollgard cotton products fall within the scope of its patent rights.
Syngenta is seeking damages and injunctive relief to stop Monsanto, DeKalb Genetics, Pioneer Hi-Bred, Delta and Pine Land, Dow AgroSciences and Mycogen seeds from selling these products and developing further infringing products.
Monsanto said it would vigorously defend itself against baseless lawsuits filed in U.S. District Court in Delaware.
“These patent infringement claims are first being voiced by Syngenta years after insect-protected corn and cotton technology by Monsanto have been successfully used by American farmers,” David F. Snively, assistant general counsel for Monsanto, stated.
In one of the suits, Syngenta Biotechnology Inc. sued Monsanto and Delta and Pine Land companies; in another suit Syngenta Seeds Inc. sued Monsanto, Dekalb Genetics Corp; Pioneer Hi-Bred, Dow AgroSciences LLC, Mycogen Plant Science, and Agrigenetics Inc.
Snively said that in the past, Novartis, which is now part of Syngenta, sued Monsanto and Dekalb for patent infringement involving corn technology in the same federal court and lost. In 1988 a jury determined that Monsanto and Dekalb were not liable and the Novartis patent was invalid.
“We’re confident this is another case when the facts are brought forward, it will be obvious that Monsanto is not liable since it did not infringe patents, and that others in the scientific field were the first to innovate and bring forward insect-protection technologies,” Snively said.
David Jones, head of Syngenta plant science, said, “It is clear that nothing short of this comprehensive action will stop the ongoing violation of our intellectual property rights. Our competitors are proceeding without regard to our patents. We are prosecuting these actions to stop their infringing activities.”
The actions are unrelated to a patent interference proceeding between Syngenta, Monsanto, and other third parties contesting rights to a U.S. patent covering all transgenic broadleaf plants per se, including soybeans, cotton, and canola.