Monsanto takes a punch to the gut

Score another big victory for the Public Patent Foundation: Monsanto's grip on crucial genetic modification patents is weakening.

Topics: Globalization, How the World Works, Monsanto, Biotechnology,

Last October, How the World Works expressed skepticism over efforts by Daniel Ravicher, the founder and president of the Public Patent Foundation, to invalidate four Monsanto patents involving the methods by which genes from one organism are inserted into another. But even then, we liked how the man expressed himself:

The patent system is being abused by private actors to the detriment of the mostly unaware public. Our health, our freedom, and our economic prosperity are all under assault from bogus rights meted out to the few with the power and expertise to game a system originally established hundreds of years ago to promote progress within society as a whole. The government, through primarily a captured patent office utterly failing to achieve its mission and skewed policies implemented into patent law by Congress and the courts, is not just failing to defend the public interest from abuse of the patent system, but is complicit in and supportive of such efforts.



Then, in April, the Public Patent Foundation scored a major success when the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejected three major stem cell patents claimed by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation. Now comes the news that the PTO has similarly rejected Monsanto’s patents. (Thanks to Naked Capitalism for the heads-up.)

If the decision is upheld after Monsanto’s inevitable appeal, a process that could take years, it will have enormous implications for the future prospects of corporate ownership of genetic modification technologies.

Back in October, my headline for How the World Work’s initial appraisal of Ravicher and the Public Patent Foundation was “Don Quixote, or David vs. Goliath?” That question appears to be answered.

Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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