The trial began this week between Monsanto and DuPont over control of a popular seed technology worth billions of dollars, this is the latest saga in the ongoing battle between the two agricultural giants.
The two companies have been battling it out for years over the use the seed technology that makes soybeans, corn and other crops tolerant of glyphosate-based herbicide, letting farmers spray the weed killer directly over the crops.
In the trial in St. Louis, expected to last about three weeks, Monsanto is arguing that DuPont through its Pioneer Hi-Bred International unit has violated a 2002 licensing agreement giving DuPont the right to use Monsanto's glyphosate-tolerant Roundup Ready soybean trait. DuPont counters that Monsanto acted fraudulently in obtaining the patent (RE 39,247).
This is not the first time the two companies have come head to head in the courtroom, in May 2009 Monsanto sued DuPont for what it said was unauthorized use of the Roundup Ready herbicide tolerant product. Monsanto said DuPont's Optimum Gat soybean seed was a failure as a competitor to Roundup Ready, leading DuPont to include the licensed Roundup Ready trait in combination with its own glyphosate-resistant genetic trait.
The U.S. District Court in St. Louis ruled in 2010 that the Roundup Ready license agreements between DuPont and Monsanto contain an unwritten "implied" term that prohibited DuPont from stacking its Optimum GAT trait with Monsanto's Roundup Ready trait in soybeans or corn.
But the court said its ruling was narrow, and said that DuPont's separate antitrust and patent fraud claims were not impacted by that ruling and could proceed.
The case is in Re: Monsanto Co vs E.I. Dupont De Nemours, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Missouri, No. 09-00686.