Thursday, January 22, 2004

The Sacramento Bee's Mike Lee appears to have the best coverage of Schmeiser v. Monsanto:
Justice William Ian Corneil Binnie asked whether limiting patents would leave commercial inventions on laboratory shelves.

Monsanto lawyer Roger T. Hughes assured the justices that it would hamper innovation.

But as Hughes spoke, he was pelted by questions from the bench about whether Monsanto's modified genes can be legally viewed as separate from the plants in which they grow. That line of questioning would take on added importance if the court believes that plants are excluded from patenting by its 2002 ruling on higher life forms.

Justice Binnie also questioned whether the lower courts ought to have awarded Monsanto monetary damages. "How can a trial judge... order an accounting of profits when there is no finding that the invention profited (Schmeiser) a nickel?" he asked.

Monsanto lawyer Arthur B. Renaud said punitive damages keep farmers honest. Without them, he said, "It comes down to 'catch me if you can.'

[Also, Forbes/Reuters]


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