Thursday, March 10, 2005
Eriq Gardner reports in the March 2005 issue of IP Law and Business on an antitrust suit brought against Monsanto by Syngenta, challenging Monsanto's licensing practices with respect to its patent on genetically modified seeds. This case follows on the heels of an antitrust suit brought by farmers also challenging Monsanto's practices.
Syngenta charges that Monsanto structured its contracts with some 300 seed companies so that if they substitute a competitor's genetic traits for any of Monsanto's, the seed companies must forfeit the bulk discounts they receive when they buy additional Monsanto traits.
Syngenta's general counsel, Edward Resler, calls Monsanto "a monopolist. " Monsanto's discount program has multiple purposes, he says. It ensures that seed companies promote seeds with Monsanto traits. And he alleges that the program is a convenient way to get seed companies to license Monsanto's entire product portfolio. How? Monsanto also offers seed companies incentive packages for "stacked traits." A seed company that sells a certain percentage of seed with a Monsanto GM trait, like corn engineered to resist the corn borer insect, for example, also gets a discount off another Monsanto GM trait, like glyphosate-tolerance.