IU McKinney Alumni on Case before SCOTUS


It’s an Indiana-based case in which alumni of the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law are weighing in and waiting to see how the Supreme Court of the United States will rule in the case Vernon Hugh Bowman v. Monsanto Company. The case was heard February 19, 2013.

Gary Baise, ’68, is counsel of record in an amicus brief submitted on behalf of Monsanto. David Snivley, ’79, is senior vice president, secretary, and general counsel of Monsanto, the multinational agricultural biotechnology company.

Monsanto sued Indiana farmer Vernon Bowman for infringing the company’s patents on its “Roundup Ready” soybean seeds, which are genetically engineered to be resistant to Roundup and other glyphosphate-based herbicides. When Bowman planted the seeds without paying the technology fees Monsanto demands of farmers who want to use its seeds, Monsanto successfully sued Bowman and won damages of $84,000. Bowman has now appealed the case up to the SCOTUS.

It’s a case that also has captured the attention of the law school’s Professor Emily Morris

“The primary issue in the case is exactly how far an intellectual property owner’s rights extend before those rights are exhausted, an issue also raised in Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.,” Professor Morris said of the case the high court heard in October 2012. “More specifically, Bowman raises the question of how a patent owner’s rights apply to self-replicating technologies, such as plants, bacteria, and other living organisms. The ultimate question is exactly what rights a patent owner transfers when it sells a product covered by one or more patents and what rights the patent owner can seek to retain.”

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