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World's Largest Seed Companies Agree To Share Technology

posted on March 29, 2013

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Government data this week revealed significant gains in the housing and manufacturing sectors.

U.S. home prices rose 8.1 percent in January in their best showing since 2006. Orders for big ticket durable goods jumped 5.7 percent in February, in the biggest move in five months.

February new home sales and March consumer confidence looked a little shakier, but the overall picture of an improving economy drove stocks higher this week as the S&P 500 settled at a record high Thursday and Wall Street closed out its best 1st quarter in 15 years.

And as farmers prepare for the annual rite of spring planting, a legal “battle of the behemoths” was defused when the world’s two largest purveyors of agricultural inputs reached a compromise.

The world’s largest seed companies, DuPont and Monsanto, announced technology licensing agreements Tuesday which will expand the sphere of products available to farmers.

At issue was an August federal court ruling that DuPont willfully infringed on Monsanto’s patent for its Roundup Ready herbicide-resistant seeds.  Monsanto was awarded $1 billion in the decision.

Both parties agreed this week to drop respective antitrust and soybean patent lawsuits, setting the stage for the agricultural giants to move forward together in forging genetically modified crops.

DuPont-Pioneer, a national underwriter of Market to Market, agreed to make $1.75 billion in royalty payments to Monsanto over the next decade. 

The St. Louis-based company’s Roundup-resistant soybean technologies are included in a multi-year, royalty-bearing license in the U.S. and Canada. 

Assuming regulatory approval, DuPont Pioneer can offer Genuity Roundup-Ready soybeans by 2014. Another herbicide-resistant soybean variety is expected on the market in 2015.

DuPont will also receive regulatory data rights for the soybean and corn traits previously licensed from Monsanto, which will enable it to create a wide array of stacked trait combinations using traits or genetics from DuPont Pioneer or others.  Monsanto acquires access to DuPont patented technologies on corn defoliation and resistance to crop disease.

In a statement, DuPont Pioneer President Paul Schickler said, “This technology exchange helps both companies to expand the range of innovative solutions we can offer farmers, and to do so faster than either of us could alone.”

Schickler noted the new approach by the former rivals will focus on offering the best products available, while working to advance innovation and long-term opportunities for agriculture.

No stranger to fighting for its patents, Monsanto has been embroiled in a separate dispute with an Indiana farmer since 2007.  The case has made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Vernon Bowman was accused of replanting Roundup Ready soybean seeds -- engineered by Monsanto – that he bought from a local grain elevator.  The leftover seeds were intended to be used as animal feed.

The high court thus far appears to favor upholding lower court rulings which awarded Monsanto nearly $85,000 in damages.  

Tags: $1 billion decision corn courts Dupont Pioneer Genuity herbicide-resistant Monsanto Paul Schickler Roundup Ready seeds soybeans technology licensing agreements