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Supreme Court Sides With Monsanto in Seed-Patent Case

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday sided unanimously with the Monsanto Company in affirming that an Indiana farmer had violated the agribusiness giant’s patents by planting successive generations of the company’s genetically modified soybean seeds without paying the company a fee, according to The New York Times.

A federal judge in Indiana had ordered the farmer to pay Monsanto more than $84,000, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld that ruling, in 2011. Advocates for academic researchers urged the Supreme Court to reverse the decision, saying it would harm scientists’ ability to perform independent research on crops.

Some research universities and higher-education groups filed a brief, however, warning that if the Supreme Court overturned the patent-infringement ruling, companies would have fewer incentives to license self-replicating technologies from universities.

Justice Elena Kagan, writing for the court, stressed that the justices intended their decision to be narrow, addressing the specific case before them “rather than every one involving a self-replicating product.” The ruling made no mention of the objections of those who argued that Monsanto’s policies hampered academic research.

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