A federal jury Wednesday awarded $1 billion to Monsanto Co. (MON) in a patent-infringement lawsuit against rival DuPont Co. (DD) over Monsanto's Roundup Ready seed technology.
The jury reached the verdict at a St. Louis federal courthouse on the same day that it started deliberations. The trial began July 9.
The jury found DuPont willfully infringed Monsanto's patent for Roundup Ready seeds and awarded $1 billion in damages to Monsanto, according to a statement from Monsanto on Wednesday evening. Roundup Ready seeds grow into plants able to survive exposure to glyphosate, the active ingredient in the Roundup weedkiller made by Monsanto.
St. Louis-based Monsanto filed suit in 2009 over DuPont's Optimum GAT soybean seed, which included a DuPont transgenic trait that enabled the crop to withstand applications of glyphosate.
DuPont and its seed subsidiary, Pioneer Hi-Bred, initially marketed the seed as an alternative to Monsanto's Roundup Ready, but ultimately paired the Monsanto trait with its own trait in the Optimum GAT product.
Monsanto, the world's largest seed company, claimed that by stacking the gene onto its own product, DuPont violated the terms of a 2002 licensing agreement. DuPont countersued, alleging anticompetitive practices. DuPont has since shelved the Optimum GAT product.
During the trial, DuPont, based in Wilmington, Del., argued that Monsanto misled U.S. government officials to obtain the patent.
"This verdict highlights that all companies that make early and substantial investments in developing cutting-edge technology will have their intellectual property rights upheld and fairly valued," said David Snively, Monsanto's Executive Vice President and General Counsel, in a prepared statement.
Monsanto's Roundup Ready technology is used broadly by farmers, as the company has licensed it to other companies. The glyphosate-resistant trait is used in alfalfa, corn, cotton, canola and sugar beets.
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