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Federal Court judges unanimously dismiss appeal in Schmeiser vs. Monsanto Canada patent infringement case

(Friday, Sept. 6, 2002 -- CropChoice news) -- The following is a statement from Monsanto.

(Winnipeg, Manitoba – September 5, 2002) – The Federal Court of Appeal has unanimously dismissed the 17 grounds of appeal submitted for Mr. Percy Schmeiser, who was found guilty of violating Monsanto’s patent pertaining to the Roundup Ready gene in canola.

On March 29, 2001, Federal Court Justice, Andrew MacKay, ruled that Mr. Schmeiser "knew or ought to have known" that he had saved and planted seed that was Roundup tolerant and had therefore infringed Monsanto’s Roundup Ready patented technology.

During the original trial, Justice MacKay pointed to independent tests that showed 1,030 acres of Mr. Schmeiser’s canola were 95 per cent to 98 per cent tolerant to Roundup herbicide. At such a high level of tolerance, Justice MacKay ruled the seed could only be of commercial quality and could not have arrived in Mr. Schmeiser’s field by accident.

A panel of three Federal Court judges heard Mr. Schmeiser’s appeal on May 15-16, 2002 in Saskatoon. In its reasons for judgment released Sept. 4, 2002, the panel of judges rejected all of Mr. Schmeiser’s arguments and unanimously ruled that Monsanto’s patent was valid and that Mr. Schmeiser had violated Monsanto’s patent on Roundup Ready canola. Monsanto’s cross appeal on the question of quantum of profits was also dismissed.

Monsanto Canada vice-president and general manager, Peter Turner, said Monsanto is satisfied that Mr. Schmeiser’s appeal was dismissed and that he remains guilty of violating its patent.

"More than 30,000 western Canadian farmers have entered into agreements with us to use the Roundup Ready technology and they are willing to pay for the technology because of the benefits it provides," said Turner. "We’re hopeful this will put an end to continued legal action in this case."

Turner also noted that the introduction of transgenic canola is a western Canadian success story. Since 1996, western Canadian farmers have planted over 39 million acres of herbicide tolerant canola and more than 30,000 farmers have paid to use Roundup Ready technology on almost 19 million of those acres.