Case Study on Asgrow Seed Co. V. Winterboer Patent Infringement

Asgrow Seed Co. V. Winterboer Patent Infringement

Many companies offering solutions to farmers in the globe have been established, but many have not been able to protect their inventions. Cases of patent infringement have been reported now and then, however, the case of Asgrow Seed Company against Winterboer was widespread and opened eyes of many corporations. The Plant Variety Protection Act [PVPA] of 1970 is a great act that many companies have relied on for many years. Asgrow is one of the widely acknowledged companies that have embraced the act by filling a patent infringement case against Winterboer.

Asgrow Seed Company held two plant variety protection act [PVPA] certificates protecting different variety of soybean seed. These two certificates act as patent presenting a great way to promote research on new varieties of plants and to protect the owners of the seed varieties from any unauthorized sales.  There is an exemption for farmers who sell seeds to other farmers who core occupation is growing crops for sale. In 1990, Winterboer planted
Asgrow soybean variety and harvested 256 acres of land. Winterboer then sold the enough seeds to plant 1000 acres of land to many other farmers.

Asgrow did not take these actions by Winterboer as appropriate and claimed that the PVPA prohibits anyone from selling seeds more than would be needed to replant in his own land. This means that Winterboer sold what could not be planted in his respective land. Winterboer argued that the protections in the PVPA statute protect sales of unlimited amounts of seeds as long as both seller and buyer are able to grow crops primarily for “other than reproductive purposes”.

The case of Asgrow Seed Co. V. Winterboer was widespread and many people whether entrepreneurs or farmers want to see which side the federal court will rule in favor of in the case. The district court ruled in favor of Asgrow Seed Company; however the United State Court of Appeals for Federal Circuit reversed and disavowed Asgrow’s petition for rehearing of the case. If you are still wondering, whether the quantity of protected seed that a farmer can sell under the protections in the PVPA is limited to the amount of see the seller would require to replant on his own fields, then this case of Asgrow Seed Co. V. Winterboer offers exceptional solutions.

The best answer to your question regarding the amount of seeds to sell as compared to want to replant in your fields is; YES! In a decision authored by Justice Antonin Scalia, the court showed that a farmer may sell for reproductive purposes only such seed as he or she has saved for the purpose of replanting in his or her own land.

On the other hand, Plant Variety Protection Act [PVPA] statute allows farmers to save seeds to replant and then sell that saved seed to other farmers, it also bars growing protected seed as a “step in marketing” it as a seed for planting. The Federal court held the case because Winterboer’s planting and harvesting was conducted specially to market Asgrow’s protected seeds varieties. Winterboer surrendered eligibility for the PVPA exemption and infringed on Asgrow’s protective certificate patents.

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