On April 11th, Wednesday court ruled that Monsanto can not claim patents on its genetically modified cotton seeds in India. Delhi High Court agreed with Nuziveedu Seeds Ltd (NSL) that India’s Patent Act does not allow Monsanto any patent cover for its GM cotton seeds.
Disappointed with the court’s order, Monsanto India spokesman said the company was very disappointed with the court order stated that the order is going to have a wide range of negative implications for biotech based innovation across many sectors within India, and is inconsistent with other international markets where agricultural innovation has flourished.
In 2016, the Indian farm ministry cut Monsanto’s royalties by more than 70 percent, triggering a long-running feud that drew in the Indian and U.S. governments. In March, India cut the royalties paid to the company for its genetically modified cotton seeds for the second time in the period of two years which fueled another row with the U.S. company which threatened to leave India in 2016.
At the end of 2017, NSL said it would not be settled a long-standing intellectual property dispute with Monsanto over genetically modified cotton though other Indian companies settled to it. Kalyan Goswami, director general of the National Seed Association of India claimed that the false claim of Monsanto got exposed.
The Indian legal points which were involved in this case are as follows:
- The government enacted the Cotton Seeds Price (Control) Order and subsequently notified the licensing guidelines and formats for GM technology licensing agreements, Monsanto continued with a misinformed campaign that the Ministry of Agriculture wrongly invoked the provisions of compulsory licensing of the Patent Act.
- Sec. 26 of the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights (PPVFR) Act 2001 states the right to make a claim before PPVFR Authority for benefit sharing based on the agronomic value the Bollgard trait confers to various new varieties developed by breeders, but it is not applicable for transgenic varieties. It has been clarified by the government in IPR Policy 2016.
- The National Seed Association of India asked the Ministry of Agriculture to implement the PPVFR Act without any distortion. If intellectual property law in compliance with Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights were implemented, it would be a distortion though it gave a right to Monsanto the right to claim.
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