Monsanto vs. Indian Seed Companies: Enforcement of rejected patent claims?

As has already been reported on SpicyIP and the mainstream media, Monsanto and Indian seed companies are involved in a series of lawsuits against each other on a variety of different issues such as patents, plant variety protection, trademark, and competition law.

Earlier this month, a counter claim for patent and trade mark infringement was filed by Monsanto at the Delhi High Court against another seed company, Amar Biotech. With this suit, 27% of the Indian cotton seed market has been brought under the threat of injunction. Monsanto has also invoked arbitration proceedings against four other companies having a collective market share of approximately 40%.

Companies are not the only ones fighting it out with Monsanto. A group of farmers in Maharashtra have asked the Bombay High Court[1] to declare that their traditional plant breeding activities and the consequent exchange or sale of their Bt cotton seed does not infringe any patent rights of Monsanto.

With two-thirds of the Indian cotton seed industry, as well as farmers, questioning the alleged patent rights of Monsanto, it is useful to examine the patent issues involved a little more closely.

At the center of the entire controversy is claim 25 of Indian patent no. 214436 which reads as follows:

Claim 25: A nucleic acid sequence comprising a promoter operably linked to a first polynucleotide sequence encoding a plastid transit peptide, which is linked in frame to a second polynucleotide sequence encoding a Cry2Ab Bacillus thuringiensis δ-endotoxin protein, wherein expression of said nucleic acid sequence by a plant cell produces a fusion protein comprising an amino-terminal plastid transit peptide covalently linked to said δ-endotoxin protein, and wherein said fusion

[1] CS 109/2017

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