Monday, May 13, 2013

Bowman v. Monsanto Co.

Patent: patent exhaustion: defense of patent exhaustion, which gives the purchaser of a patented article, or any subsequent owner, the right to use or resell that article; patent exhaustion does not permit a farmer to reproduce patent­ed seeds through planting and harvesting without the patent holder’s permission; under the patent exhaustion doctrine, “the initial authorized sale of a patented article terminates all patent rights to that item,” Quanta Computer, Inc. v. LG Electronics, Inc., 553 U. S. 617, 625, and confers on the purchaser, or any subsequent owner, “the right to use or sell” the thing as he sees fit, United States v. Univis Lens Co., 316 U. S. 241, 249–250. However, the doctrine restricts the patent­ee’s rights only as to the “particular article” sold, id., at 251; it leaves untouched the patentee’s ability to prevent a buyer from making new copies of the patented item. By planting and harvesting Monsanto’s patented seeds, Bowman made additional copies of Monsanto’s pa­tented invention, and his conduct thus falls outside the protections of patent exhaustion; in the more ordinary case, when a farmer purchases Roundup Ready seed from Monsanto or an affiliate, he will be able to plant it in accordance with Monsan­to’s license to make one crop (U.S.S.Ct., 13.05.13, Bowman v. Monsanto Co., J. Kagan, unanimous).

Brevet : l'acheteur d'une chose brevetée, ou un possesseur subséquent de la chose, dispose du droit d'usage ou de revente de l'objet. S'agissant d'une semence brevetée, un fermier viole le brevet s'il reproduit ces semences par le biais d'une plantation puis d'une récolte. En effet, agir ainsi revient à copier la chose brevetée, et non simplement à l'utiliser ou à la revendre.

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