Organic Farmers' Preemptive Lawsuit Against Monsanto Patents Tossed Out For Being A Bit Too Preemptive

from the can't-declare-just-yet dept

Monsanto has quite a track record of going after farmers for making use of its "patented" seeds, even in a case that involve seeds that blew onto a farm from a neighboring farm. So, it wasn't entirely surprising to see a group of organic farmers preemptively sue Monsanto last year, asking for a declaratory judgment that they did not infringe. However, the judge in the case has now dismissed the case, noting that for a declaratory judgment, there has to be a real conflict, and Monsanto keeps insisting that it won't sue these farmers. From a legal standpoint, this argument makes sense (and the declaratory judgment standard can be pretty high in some cases -- especially if no direct threat has been issued). But, it still seems unfortunate. Given Monsanto's past actions in other cases, even if it says it won't sue now, plenty of farmers are reasonably scared about what will happen down the road. But, for now, they just have to wait and hope that Monsanto seeds don't show up on their farms...


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  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 28th, 2012 @ 3:53pm

    Stupid plebians

    Did they really think they could win against a corporation? They have a building full of lawyers.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Feb 28th, 2012 @ 4:17pm

    Calling Ms. Morissette

    Is claiming copyright on self-replicating organisms ironic?

     

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  3.  
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    btr1701 (profile), Feb 28th, 2012 @ 4:18pm

    Seeds

    Never could figure out why the courts let companies get away with this sort of thing. If they purposely introduce something into the environment, that by its very nature is designed to germinate and spread as far and wide as possible, it's ridiculous to allow them to then turn around and sue everyone within spore-range of their facility because of their own actions.

    And since the claims are being allowed to go forward, I'm not sure why the farmers don't countersue Monsanto for trespass and/or negligently contaminating their farms with their unwanted genetically modified freak-seeds.

     

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  4.  
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    btr1701 (profile), Feb 28th, 2012 @ 4:19pm

    Re: Calling Ms. Morissette

    > Is claiming copyright on self-replicating
    > organisms ironic?

    Perhaps, but Monsanto isn't doing that. It's claiming patent.

     

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  5.  
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    silverscarcat (profile), Feb 28th, 2012 @ 4:25pm

    Let me fix your quote...

    "Did they really think they could win against a corporation? They have a barn full of lawyers."

     

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  6.  
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    GMacGuffin (profile), Feb 28th, 2012 @ 4:27pm

    This was actually a success ... of sorts

    I think the organic farmers got what they could out of this - repeated representations by the other Evil Empire that they won't sue organic farmers is not in a federal court record.

    The Court had little choice on how to rule ... ripeness and all.

     

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  7.  
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    GMacGuffin (profile), Feb 28th, 2012 @ 4:27pm

    Re: This was actually a success ... of sorts

    ...er, is "now" in a federal court record.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 28th, 2012 @ 4:48pm

    Today we patent plant seeds. Next step: humans. Well, maybe not, but I could be laughing my old ass off in 30 years saying "I told ya so!" when Cumsanto starts suing women who got impregnated by men with patented genes. "I'm sorry, ma'am, but that baby has our intellectual property in it. We're entitled to it!"

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Benjamin C. Wade, Feb 28th, 2012 @ 5:28pm

    Re:

    Judge Solomon already decided this case. They cut the child down the middle. Each gets half. After all, half the genes were hers.

     

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  10.  
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    mr. sim (profile), Feb 28th, 2012 @ 5:30pm

    I'm not sure why the farmers don't sue Monsanto for trespass, breaking and entering, loss of livelihood and negligently contaminating their farms with their unwanted genetically modified seeds. monsanto has failed in a legal obligation to prevent their genetically altered seed from ruining the farmers organic non genetically engineered crops.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 28th, 2012 @ 5:32pm

    Why isn't Monsanto not Liable for Contaminating Crops

    Why are organic farmers on the defensive here? Why isn't Monsanto liable for contaminating natural crops? Surely it also takes on the risks of GMO impacting a legitimate crop strain?

    Or are the organic farmers stuck in a legal catch-22?

    The whole things seems backwards to me.

     

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  12.  
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    saulgoode (profile), Feb 28th, 2012 @ 5:56pm

    Re: Why isn't Monsanto not Liable for Contaminating Crops

    I don't understand why the FBI isn't sending in anti-terrorist squads to arrest Monsanto's CEO. GMOs are illegal in Hungary and the U.S. should not be permitting this rogue corporation to flaunt Hungarian law with such disregard.

    How can the FBI expect other countries to enforce U.S. laws if they aren't willing to reciprocate?

     

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  13.  
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    Dood, Feb 28th, 2012 @ 5:57pm

    They'll sue they always do

    Even though they didn't get the declaratory judgement, they at least have it on file and the comments from Montassholes about not suing. Arrows in the quiver, because we all know they're gonna sue. Just a matter of when.

     

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  14.  
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    tony, Feb 28th, 2012 @ 5:57pm

    Organic industry depends on gm food to be bale to charge more for their food. They are not threatened - the opposite is true. They only exist by slandering companies like Monsanto. Monsanto has done more to reduce chemical insecticides than the whole organic industry. Bt rips have reduced massive levels of insecticide just one example root worm killing nerve poisoning chems have been reduced on 25 million acres every year since 2003 almost 10 years by root worm protected Gm corn. You really need to stop reading the crap on the internet

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 28th, 2012 @ 5:58pm

    Easy For Monsanto

    Winning against any farmer is easy for Monsanto. If natural transfer of pollen by the wind is not getting the job done, then send an agent to toss in a few handfuls of Monsanto seed into the fields of the proposed victim. Wait until harvest. Agent quietly harvests a bit of the crop. Test the crop. Discover Monsanto patented genes. Sue. Expert witnesses testify that Monsanto genes found. Farmer loses. Chalk up another victory for Monsanto.

     

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  16.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Feb 28th, 2012 @ 6:22pm

    Re:

    One problem is these Monsanto "miracles" are already losing effectiveness. We've got pests and weeds that have mutated to dodge what Monsanto produces. So Monsanto not only wants to control crops around the world, it must keep trying to produce new products to stay in the game.

    People want the option not to have these plants. And poor farmers particularly don't want to be dependent on a large corporation providing them with expensive products. So they are fighting a system where unwanted crops contaminate their own crops and then they are sued for having them.

    Also, another big issue has been labeling. You want to grow GMOs? Fine, but don't balk if countries ask you to label the foods that have them. In fact, if GMOs are so great, presumably you'd be proud to sell labeled GMO foodstuffs.

     

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  17.  
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    Greevar (profile), Feb 28th, 2012 @ 6:23pm

    Re: Seeds

    They try, but the courts weigh heavily in their favor. So much so, that Monsanto can purposely deposit seeds in a farmer's crops just so they can ruin a competitor with rival seeds.

    Check out "The Future of Food". It makes it all very clear.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 28th, 2012 @ 6:51pm

    Re: Stupid plebians

    And a backup building of lawyers just in case

     

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  19.  
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    TheBigH (profile), Feb 28th, 2012 @ 8:12pm

    Re: Re:

    "In fact, if GMOs are so great, presumably you'd be proud to sell labeled GMO foodstuffs."

    That's difficult, considering the amount of fearmongering and misinformation spread by the opponents of GMO food.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 28th, 2012 @ 8:28pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    "fearmongering and misinformation"

    As opposed to the fearmongering and misinformation spread by producers of GMO food?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Feb 28th, 2012 @ 8:34pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    That's difficult, considering the amount of fearmongering and misinformation spread by the opponents of GMO food.

    So, even though GMOs are saving mankind, they need to be kept secret because of PR?

    I actually didn't pay too much attention to them until recently. I've always tried to avoid pesticides and herbicides, so in general I prefer organic foods. While GMOs might reduce the needs of herbicides and pesticides on crops, if they result in harder-to-kill weeds and bugs, we're back to where we were.

    What got me worried about GMOs is that they can spread to non-GMO crops and then the farmers get sued for having them. That sounds like a power play to me.

    People do have the right to avoid GMOs and countries do have the right to prevent them from being grown within their borders. If labeling helps consumers identify what they want to buy, it sounds like a good thing to me.

     

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  22.  
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    Liz (profile), Feb 28th, 2012 @ 8:39pm

    Re: Re:

    IIRC in that case, the mother decided to give up her baby instead of seeing it cut in half. So the judge awarded full custody to the company and fined the former mother to pay for the company's legal fees.

     

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  23.  
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    TheBigH (profile), Feb 28th, 2012 @ 8:44pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Oh, I agree. Some of the GMO producers (eg. Monsanto) aren't doing themselves any favours with their unscrupulous behaviour. But this is part of the problem. If you're justified in attacking a company over its unethical business practices you feel more able to attack it over other things as well- such as the science, where your justification may not be as strong.

    Look at the case of "big pharma" for example. People have a go at them for their greed and shameless profiteering, and rightly so. But then some turn around and say that if "big pharma" are willing to do this then obviously all their drugs are going to just make people sick and keep them sick rather than healing them because all they care about is money and not about people. And so you get dangerous idiots like the antivax movement, faith healers, and homeopaths cashing in on people's ill-informed mistrust of the evil scary corporations. I don't really see the fear of GMO food as being any different.

    I can dislike a company's practices without being paranoid of the science.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 28th, 2012 @ 8:52pm

    If I am a farmer and Monsanto says to me to destroy my crop, I do it, the next day I'm suing them for contaminating my fields and asking for damages and punitive fees.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 28th, 2012 @ 8:55pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    That is why people need to start producing their own drugs so they have an understanding of how things are done, there is no better shield against that type of thing than education.

     

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  26.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Feb 28th, 2012 @ 9:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I saw this and I am concerned about attacks on science.

    Attacks paid for by big business are 'driving science into a dark era' | Science | The Observer

    What complicates things in terms of health is that what might be conventional wisdom at one point may be disproved later on. For example, it was considered "modern" for women to bottle feed. Now we know that breastfeeding is better, and yet for years we had to battle formula companies not to pressure women, particularly poor women, to favor formula over breast milk.

    Back in the 1950s, tonsillitis was sometimes treated with radiation. Now we know that it can result decades later in thyroid cancer.

    Once I became pregnant, I became much more aware of what I was exposed to and what my kids were exposed to. Are concerns about GMOs too extreme? I don't know. But I want the option not to have GMO foods. And I worry that we'll have a rebound effect giving us superbugs and superweeds and the system will end up being more out of whack than it was before.

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 28th, 2012 @ 9:13pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The thing I fear from GMO's, is the fact that they are just one more way for massive, bureaucratic, monstrosities called corporations to seek rent money from things even the poor depend on, namely food.

    Those that seek seed royalties, and the legal monopoly over ALL of food in the world, aren't your friends. Science, or no science.

     

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  28.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Feb 28th, 2012 @ 9:17pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The thing I fear from GMO's, is the fact that they are just one more way for massive, bureaucratic, monstrosities called corporations to seek rent money from things even the poor depend on, namely food.

    Yes, I feel the same way. I don't want Big Ag to own the world's food supply.

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 28th, 2012 @ 10:06pm

    Re: Why isn't Monsanto not Liable for Contaminating Crops

    The answer is simple

    Monsanto has money

    Organic farmers do not

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 28th, 2012 @ 10:08pm

    Re:

    And the day after there is an entire nation of lawyers knocking at your door to charge you with everything from slander to murder (of their crops which you razed).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 28th, 2012 @ 10:20pm

    300k Organic Farmers To Sue Monsanto For Seed Patent Claims

    http://science.slashdot.org/story/12/02/15/1956248/300k-organic-farmers-to-sue-monsanto-fo r-seed-patent-claims

    Monsanto really does deserve imprisonment.

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Pixelation, Feb 28th, 2012 @ 10:56pm

    Wrongful contamination

    We have wrongful death lawsuits, why not wrongful contamination lawsuits? live by the sword...

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    Prisoner 201, Feb 28th, 2012 @ 11:29pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Read "The Windup Girl" by Paolo Bacigalupi for a bleak image of a future where "calorie companies" rule a world ruined by their gene designed crop diseases used to oust competitors.

     

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  34.  
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    Dr. Evil, Feb 29th, 2012 @ 4:17am

    if a seed sprouts, grows, and replicates

    isn't the SEED itself violating the patent?

     

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  35.  
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    Chargone (profile), Feb 29th, 2012 @ 7:07am

    Re: Re: Calling Ms. Morissette

    the 'self replicating' bit should still be shooting them in the face.

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 29th, 2012 @ 7:27am

    Re: Re:

    I put an ad asking if anybody want to sue monsanto for millions and see what it happens.

     

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  37.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 29th, 2012 @ 7:28am

    Re: if a seed sprouts, grows, and replicates

    Not if the seed has permission to sprout :)

    Isn't the law wonderful?

     

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  38.  
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    Tom Betz (profile), Feb 29th, 2012 @ 8:29am

    This is the same lawsuit.

    Judge Buchanan made her ruling a month early.

    http://bit.ly/xdaqfD

     

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  39.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 29th, 2012 @ 10:23am

    Re:

    They have bazookas that shoot lawyers. And battering rams made of lawyers. And a giant lawyer composed of guess what, lawyers! Good luck putting a scratch in them

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
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    btr1701 (profile), Feb 29th, 2012 @ 12:02pm

    Re: Re: Seeds

    > They try, but the courts weigh heavily in their favor.

    Based on what legal theory? Because unless the judge just wants to openly admit that "big companies always win", there's no actual statutory or common law principle that would allow Monstanto to prevail.

     

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  41.  
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    btr1701 (profile), Feb 29th, 2012 @ 12:07pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    > The thing I fear from GMO's, is the fact
    > that they are just one more way for massive,
    > bureaucratic, monstrosities called corporations
    > to seek rent money from things even the poor
    > depend on, namely food.

    Next step: The Hunger Games!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
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    btr1701 (profile), Feb 29th, 2012 @ 12:09pm

    Re: Easy For Monsanto

    > Agent quietly harvests a bit of the crop.
    > Test the crop.

    How do they get that into evidence without admitting to illegal trespass?

     

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  43.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 29th, 2012 @ 1:02pm

    Re: Re: Easy For Monsanto

    Who said they had to trespass?

    1. Stand 'upwind' with bag of GMO seed.
    2. Toss seed in air
    3. Let wind do what wind does
    4. Accuse farmer of 'stealing GMO seed' point out that a sample from spot X would be a good test site.
    5. Let farmer provide 'sample' from suggested site.
    6. Sue farmer and Profit....

    If you really can't figure out how to screw the consumer, then congratulations, you aren't an evil corporate shill (this would have been a 'no brainer' for them - not referring to their bosses, just the concept of how to legally 'screw' the customer....)

     

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  44.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Feb 29th, 2012 @ 7:50pm

    Article from a couple of weeks ago

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
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    btr1701 (profile), Mar 3rd, 2012 @ 2:28am

    Re: Re: Re: Easy For Monsanto

    > Accuse farmer of 'stealing GMO seed' point out that a sample
    > from spot X would be a good test site.

    Even if the test results are positive, how does that prove theft on the part of the farmer? All it proves is that the seed somehow got on the farmer's land and given that seeds are intentionally designed to germinate on their own, the mere presence of patented seed on the land proves nothing regarding theft. To prove theft, you'd have to also prove intent to steal on the part of the farmer.

     

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  46.  
    identicon
    missmeghan, Mar 26th, 2012 @ 8:12pm

    consider all angles

    there is currently legislation being considered to mandate the labeling of gm ingredients in our food. if consumers are given the choice, monsanto will face incredible losses. we should all be paying attention to these cases. these sociopathic giants will be brought to justice, and the meek shall... you know the rest.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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