Percy Schmeiser already knew he had lost his legal battle with Monsanto. Now he knows how much it’s going to cost him.
In a May 23 judgment, Federal Court of Canada justice Andrew MacKay ruled that Schmeiser owes Monsanto Canada Inc. $19,832 plus interest, and legal costs that are yet to be determined.
MacKay also said Schmeiser is forbidden from planting, harvesting or marketing Monsanto’s Roundup Ready canola in the future and must turn over to Monsanto seed that contains the Roundup Ready gene.
On March 29, MacKay found Schmeiser guilty of patent infringement for growing Roundup Ready canola on his land without paying for the technology.
Schmeiser plans to appeal the decision, which will delay payment of the damages.
In addition to numerous objections with the decision, Schmeiser takes issue with the damages assessed by MacKay. One of Schmeiser’s main complaints is that he has to pay Monsanto all of the profits he earned on his 1998 canola crop, which amounts to nearly $20,000. Schmeiser said that isn’t fair because three or four of his canola fields had no Roundup Ready seed.
“That dollar amount includes all the profits from my conventional canola.”
He is also irked that he must hand over all the canola in his possession, which the court ruled he should have known contained Roundup Ready seed.
“It takes my right away that I can’t use my own seed and that’s where the big concern is,” Schmeiser said.
Monsanto spokesperson Trish Jordan said the company’s victory occurred with the court’s decision, not with the settlement.
“We were pleased with the decision. For us this has never been about making money off of a farmer.”
What remains to be determined is how much Schmeiser owes the company for interest on the $19,832 and for Monsanto’s legal costs. Schmeiser and Monsanto will make submissions to MacKay within 30 days of the judgment.
Jordan said Monsanto has already done its calculations and will ask for $200,000, which amounts to $200 per acre of the canola Schmeiser grew.
“It’s kind of unfortunate, because had he chosen to talk to us about this and settle it out of court, he would have been paying a heck of a lot less than 200 bucks an acre.”
Schmeiser said he spent $200,000 from his retirement fund to pay for his legal bills. Money to pay for the appeal is coming from his supporters.
“I made a statement when the decision came down in March and I said to people of the world that if I would get support, I would then appeal. That support has come in and is continuing to come in.”
At the time, Schmeiser said he needed at least $50,000 to launch an appeal.
“I can say to you today, I’m in a position to appeal.”
Jordan said the money from this case and all other fines stemming from patent infringements go into a fund set up by Monsanto to support charitable causes in rural communities.