Accidental sowing a violation

A lawyer for Monsanto Canada says even if a farmer unknowingly grew

Roundup Ready canola that drifted onto his land, that person would

technically be violating the company’s patent.

Roger Hughes told three Federal Court of Appeal justices that, “Yes,

technically he’s infringing under those circumstances.”

But he said Monsanto has publicly stated that it only protects its

patent in situations where it believes there has been a deliberate

violation of its intellectual property – such as the Percy Schmeiser


Hughes was responding to a hypothetical question raised by one of the

three judges hearing an appeal of a 2001 Federal Court of Canada

decision that found Schmeiser guilty of infringing Monsanto’s patent on

Roundup Ready canola.

The judges were clearly surprised by Hughes’ assertion that a farmer

could unknowingly break Monsanto’s patent through circumstances beyond

their control.

“That’s a tough one, Mr. Hughes, I have to tell you,” said judge Julius


“Without knowledge?”

Hughes reiterated his point that in “99.9 percent” of reported

violations, Monsanto works out some kind of mutually agreeable

arrangement with farmers who find Roundup Ready canola on their land.

It is only when a farmer is suspected of deliberately violating the

patent that Monsanto pursues legal action.

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