This year, Boys’ State judges and lawyers got the opportunity to hear and argue actual cases that have gone before the United States Supreme Court. The second case, Bowman v. Monsanto Corporation, was presented to determine whether patent exhaustion does or does not permit a farmer to reproduce patented seeds through planting and harvesting without the patent holder’s permission.*
Below are comments from District Judge Caleb Wilson (Valley Forge) from Elwood, Nebraska and Trevor Polivka, a District Judge (Yorktown) from Lincoln, Nebraska.
“In this case I ruled in favor of Monsanto because of a few points. First is that the seed had a genetic resistance to Roundup and even though it wasn’t the first strain, it still had the genetic similarities that were marketed. Second is that even though Mr. Bowman had been doing this planting for a long time, he first had to spray the growing corn to see if he had any of that marketable strain from Monsanto seed. The third point is that Mr. Bowman signed the documents at the elevator to verify that he was using the seed for feed and not planting. Feeding this seed was not the case for Mr. Bowman. He planted to get the genetic strain that had resilience and that was also patented to Monsanto who still had the rights to it.”
“This case is about one farmer who found a loop hole in a large company’s patent agreement and is being sued because of it. In this case I ruled for the side of Bowman. Bowman did sign the patent doctrine when he bought the seed, however I see nothing wrong with what he did. He abided by the doctrine and sold all of his crop every year, as instructed, to a public grain elevator. Then the next year after he purchased more modified seed from Monsanto. He went back to the grain elevator he sold his crop to last year and bought more seed from them, in order to fertilize and grow more soybeans mixed in with his purchase of seed from Monsanto for a large healthy crop this season. There was no guarantee that he would be getting modified seed from the grain elevator from the year before, so I believe this is not a problem, seeing how it was a public grain elevator where other farmers could buy from and also sell their ordinary crop to the year before. He did not sell it “under the table” to other farmers and sold it like the doctrine said, so he is not breaking any rules, and they have no good evidence to convict him.”