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Briefs Filed to Stop Monsanto’s Patent Infringement War against Family Farmers

EcoWatch / News Report
Published: Wednesday 18 July 2012
“Monsanto continues to claim that plaintiffs’ concerns about being accused of patent infringement after being contaminated by Monsanto’s transgenic seed are unsubstantiated and unjustified.”
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Eleven prominent law professors and 14 renowned organic, Biodynamic, food safety and consumer nonprofit organizations have filed separate briefs with the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit arguing farmers have the right to protect themselves from being accused of patent infringement by agricultural giant Monsanto.

The brief by the law professors and the brief by the nonprofit organizations were filed in support of the 75 family farmers, seed businesses and agricultural organizations representing more than 300,000 individuals and 4,500 farms that last year brought a protective legal action seeking a ruling that Monsanto could never sue them for patent infringement if they became contaminated by Monsanto’s genetically modified seed. The case was dismissed by the district court in February and that dismissal is now pending review by the Court of Appeals. The plaintiffs recently filed their opening appeal brief with the appeals court.

“Monsanto continues to claim that plaintiffs’ concerns about being accused of patent infringement after being contaminated by Monsanto’s transgenic seed are unsubstantiated and unjustified,” said Attorney Dan Ravicher of the not-for-profit legal services organization Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT), which represents the plaintiffs in the suit against Monsanto known as Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA) et al. v Monsanto. “But now two impeccable groups have joined with plaintiffs in explaining to the Court of Appeals how real and legitimate their concerns really are, especially since Monsanto continues to refuse to simply promise never to sue contaminated farmers for patent infringement.”

The first group filing a brief in support of the OSGATA plaintiffs includes eleven prominent law professors from throughout the U.S., including Professor Margo Bagley of the University of Virginia School of Law, Professor Michael Burstein of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Professor Rochelle C. Dreyfuss of the New York University School of Law, Professor Brett Frischmann of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Professor Erika George of University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law, Professor Shubha Ghosh of the University of Wisconsin Law School, Professor Megan M. La Belle of the Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law, Professor Kali Murray of Marquette University Law School, Professor Ted Sichelman of the University of San Diego School of Law, Katherine J. Strandburg of the New York University School of Law and Melissa Wasserman of the University of Illinois College of Law.

In their amicus brief, the law professors point out that “broad standing to challenge the validity of patents ensures that the courts can effectively play their critical role in screening out invalid patents.” They add, “In actions challenging the validity of a patent, the alleged injury is not only the risk of an infringement suit, but a present restraint on economic activity due to the presence of a potentially invalid exclusive right.”

The law professors went on to note, “But the validity of issued patents is uncertain until they are tested in court. This uncertainty creates real and present risks for persons wishing to engage in economic activity that might be the subject of an issued patent … When a person is deterred from undertaking valuable activity by the risk that the activity may encroach on another’s exclusive rights, that person has incurred an actual, concrete and particularized injury.”

“We are grateful for the brilliant and powerful amici briefs submitted to the appeals court by these two stellar groups, supporting our family farmers’ quest for justice,” said Maine organic seed farmer Jim Gerritsen, president and lead plaintiff, Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association. “An erroneous interpretation of law by a single judge is not going to cause our farmers to abandon our rights to farm the way we choose, to grow good food and good seed for our families and for our customers, free from Monsanto’s trespass and contamination. Denial of the property rights of American farmers is an attack on the property rights of every American. We will fight until family farmers receive justice.”

The second group filing a brief in support of the OSGATA plaintiffs, made up of fourteen nonprofit agricultural and consumer organizations, includes the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association, Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, Food and Water Watch, International Organic Inspectors Association, Maine Alternative Agriculture Association, Michigan Land Trustees, Natural Environmental Ecological Management, Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society,Organic Consumers Association, Slow Food USA, Virginia Association for Biological Farming, Virginia Independent Consumers and Farmers Association and Wisconsin Natural Food Associates.

In their amicus brief, the nonprofit agricultural and consumer organizations point out, “The plaintiff and amici organizations, farmers and seed businesses have suffered significant harm due to the threat of patent infringement suits by Monsanto.” They also noted, “Defendants have chosen to patent products that, by their very nature, will inevitably end up on the private property of people who have no desire to use them. Plaintiffs’ uncontroverted allegations show that, for the first time in history, they can be sued for something as natural as pollen drift, while simultaneously being forced to take expensive and burdensome steps in order to continue their normal businesses. The quandary of this type of liability is precisely the sort of situation that the Declaratory Judgment Act was intended to address.”

The amicus brief further explained, “The Supreme court has stated that the plaintiff ‘need not ‘bet the farm,’ yet in this case, that is precisely what the district court effectively required plaintiffs to do in order to get their day in court—continue farming the disputed crops until they are unquestionably liable to defendants for potentially crippling levels of damage before being able to seek a declaratory judgment as to their rights … The district court noted that ‘unlicensed—and unintended—use of transgenic seeds is inevitable…’ but then failed to address the fact that such unlicensed use is actionable and places plaintiffs at risk of enforcement actions by defendants.”

“It’s time to end Monsanto’s scorched-earth campaign of frivolous lawsuits against America’s family farmers,” said Dave Murphy, founder and executive director of Food Democracy Now!, a grassroots community of more than 300,000 farmers and citizens dedicated to reforming food and agriculture. “Monsanto’s claims against farmers for patent infringement are exceedingly weak, violating Americans’ most basic sense of fairness and decency. Our founding fathers would be outraged,” said Murphy.

Frivolous lawsuits are those

Frivolous lawsuits are those filed by a party or attorney who is aware they are without merit, because of a lack of supporting legal argument or factual basis for the claims. Frivolous lawsuits waste time, money, and judicial resources, and fines and/or sanctions may be imposed upon a party or their attorney for filing such a claim. What is widely reported to be a frivolous suit by the media can sometimes have merit and much more complexity than reporters may lead you to believe. I recommend that you always check the sources and read the actual court briefs before you make a judgment on a case like this.

Why doesn't this article

Why doesn't this article mention the previous law suits that Monsanto has filed against farmers, particularly Canadian farmers? That is a serious journalistic omission and would make the story substantially stronger.

Monsanto is only one of

Monsanto is only one of several transnationals that have invaded "countries in development." Giving big bribes has enabled Monsanto to invade the Mexican countryside, causing a total contamination of native corn. Also, because of transgenetically altered soy which has contaminated the natural process to produce honey, the native honey production has been altered in Campeche and Quintana Roo. Mexican honey producers can no longer export to the European Union. The interesting aspect is that the seeds only respond to Round Up and Round Up is not harmless. A French farmer sued because of damage to his nervous system and won. The situation in Paraguay is exactly that Monsanto and other transnationals want to get in and get rid of small farmers. Monsanto sent three huge bags of seeds to Haiti and the bags were burned. Hooray. It's called globalism. Bah.

Imagine BP suing all of the

Imagine BP suing all of the towns along to gulf coast for theft of oil? Or Union Carbide sending survivors of the Bhopal disaster a bill for the poisonous gas that was dispersed on their properties? It's essentially the same thing that Monsanto is doing.

It's not who you know, it's who you buy...

Doesn't anyone realize its

Doesn't anyone realize its all a ploy to bankrupt the family farmers so Monsanto can buy the farms for nothing and have the entire market. THEN . . . . . . WE don't have anything to say about what kind of poisons Monsanto infects us with.

Doesn't anyone realize its

Doesn't anyone realize its all a ploy to bankrupt the family farmers so Monsanto can buy the farms for nothing and have the entire market. THEN . . . . . . WE don't have anything to say about what kind of poisons Monsanto infects us with.

Monsanto together with Rio

Monsanto together with Rio Tinto and a few other companies have just staged a coup in Paraguay. Continuous reports on

Thousands of "landless farmers" have been evicted already to make room for GM-crops grown by the oligarchs.

President Fernando Lugo, democratically elected president, promissed to get them their land back - so Monsanto & co bought the senators to oust him.

Shouldn't the farmer have the

Shouldn't the farmer have the right to force Monsanto to buy his contaminated crop at the price he could have sold it for had it not been contaminated as a condition of Monsanto being allowed to put its GMO seed and pollen in the environment?

Why is it legal to

Why is it legal to contaminate crop seeds, and then sue people from using those seeds for their own crops? In fact, why isn't the opposite true? Monsanto is doing something to someone else that they do not want.

What happens when a company invents a way to, say, purify dirty water by injecting bacterium that kills all harmful waterborne illness into aquifers. Can they then sue to stop water access to farmers who don't need potable water?

The US Supreme kourt has the

The US Supreme kourt has the final say, and former Monsanto corporate lawyer Clarence Thomas is in the hip pocket of his former employer along with corporatists Roberts, Alito, Scalia, and Kennedy.

Thomas should be impeached for falsifying his financial disclosure forms repeatedly to hide his wife's obscene teabagger lobbyist Kochroach income.

how do we prove they are

how do we prove they are murdering the environment which is ultimately killing us?

We can't beat them

We can't beat them's a global attack and the Trans Pacific Partnership will be the nail in our coffins.

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