The patent war is over, at least for the biotech-gene technology used for the transformation of dicot plants, such as cotton.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ruling ended a 12-year patent interference dispute with the Max Planck Institute and other parties. The office ruled that Monsanto's scientists were the first to invent agrobacterium transformation in dicot plants, which eventually gave farmers the choice to use biotech crops on their farms.
"We are delighted that this scientific dispute has been resolved in Monsanto's favor," says Hugh Grant, chief executive officer for Monsanto.
Agrobacterium is one of the ways to insert beneficial characteristics into plants. Monsanto's Bollgard insect-protected cotton was developed using agrobacterium transformation for dicot crops.
In 1998, Robert T. Fraley, Ph.D., Robert B. Horsch, Ph.D., Ernest G. Jaworski, Ph.D., and Stephen G. Rogers, Ph.D., received the National Medal of Technology for their achievements in plant biology and agricultural biotechnology, and for global leadership in the development and commercialization of biotech crops to enhance agricultural productivity and sustainability.