* Monsanto claims DuPont copied "seed chipping" tool
* Corn trait development a focus
* Monsanto seeks permanent injunction, money damages
By Carey Gillam
June 19 Monsanto, the world's largest seed
company, is suing chief rival DuPont, accusing DuPont and its
agricultural crop subsidiary of treading on Monsanto's
technological turf by copying key new plant breeding
Monsanto's suit claims that a "seed chipping" invention,
which it unveiled in 2007 as a way to speed up plant breeding,
has been duplicated by DuPont in a "laser-assisted seed
selection" tool introduced in 2008. Monsanto claims its business
is suffering "irreparable harm" as a result.
DuPont spokesman Dan Turner said the lawsuit was "without
"Monsanto continues to use litigation in an attempt to limit
Pioneer from being an effective competitor," he said. "This
tactic has not worked in previous cases, and it will not work in
Monsanto spokesman Tom Helscher said the company would not
comment on its lawsuit, which was filed Monday in U.S. District
Court in St. Louis.
Monsanto is seeking a permanent injunction and treble
damages for what it calls "willful infringement."
Monsanto's robotic seed chipper allows it to individually
test every seed in its plant breeding programs for selection of
desired characteristics and to develop stacks of traits in its
The company said it has used this technology in the
development of its Roundup Ready 2 Yield soybeans, and has more
than a dozen patents in place dating back to 2004.
It calls a patent application by DuPont subsidiary Pioneer
Hi-Bred International a "copycat" application.
Both companies say their technology allows for precise
sampling of individual seeds for genetic analysis while leaving
enough seed intact for planting.
Monsanto claims the copied technology was used by DuPont in
development of its Optimum AQUAmax corn, which DuPont launched
last year. DuPont markets the corn as helping deliver a yield
advantage in water-limited environments.
Monsanto claims DuPont is also planning to use the
technology in China for seed production there.
The lawsuit by Monsanto is but the latest in a series of
court battles between the corporate giants as they battle over
the lucrative global market for agricultural seed, particularly
Both are racing to identify genetic traits to improve seeds
and get them to market as high grain prices and increasing
global demand for food and energy push farmers to raise
production of key crops.
DuPont's Pioneer seed unit last year sued Monsanto claiming
it infringed on patents that help genetically modified corn
The case is Monsanto Co. and Monsanto Technology LLC v.
Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc. and E.I. Du Pont de Nemours
and Co. 12cv1090, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District
of Missouri, St. Louis.