The world’s most widely adopted biotech trait, Roundup Ready® soybeans, is set to go off patent soon in the U.S. – the last applicable Monsanto-owned patent is expected to expire in 2014.
We introduced our second-generation Roundup Ready soybean technology in 2009 – Genuity™ Roundup Ready 2 Yield®. Monsanto-owned seed brands will be wholly focused on the Genuity Roundup Ready 2 Yield platform by 2012. We believe the grower benefits will be impressive, as compared to the post-patent choice of a royalty-free Roundup Ready trait. That’s why Genuity™ Roundup Ready 2 Yield technology will be the base platform for our future soybean technologies.
Seed Company and Farmer Choice After 2014
Farmers and seed companies will have the opportunity to make their own decisions about the value of Genuity™ Roundup Ready 2 Yield soybeans compared to Roundup Ready soybeans. Our seed company licensees will be able to continue to provide farmers with soybeans containing the Roundup Ready trait through the Roundup Ready patent expiration and beyond.
That means Roundup Ready trait licensees can make business plans that make the most sense for their operations and for their customers.
Here are some key points about the Roundup Ready patent expiration:
- Monsanto is amending all Roundup Ready soybean trait licenses to extend through the final patent expiration. As a result, the last crop year for which Monsanto will collect royalties on the technology is 2014.
- Licensees have no obligation to destroy or return seed due to expiration of the Roundup Ready soybean trait licenses.
- Monsanto will not use variety patents against U.S. farmers who save varieties containing the Roundup Ready trait for planting on their own farms after expiration of the trait patent. Farmers should check with seed suppliers regarding the policy for seed varieties developed by other companies and contain the Roundup Ready trait.
- Monsanto will maintain full global regulatory support for this first-generation technology through 2021. This will allow grain from the 2014 crop to be sold and processed. We will continue to monitor and assess the planned use of this first-generation technology beyond 2021 and work with appropriate stakeholders on any extension of regulatory support that may be needed.
- Seed company licensees who choose to work with Genuity™ Roundup Ready 2 Yield technology will be able to continue to sell varieties with Roundup Ready after the patent expires. There is no need for them to stop selling Roundup Ready technology in order to sell the new trait.
- Universities will also be able to offer soybean varieties containing the Roundup Ready trait. A number of universities have been breeding with the Roundup Ready soybean trait for a number of years and they will be able to continue this both now and following expiration of the patent.
Patent Protection, Innovation and Choice
The fact that Monsanto and other biotech companies continue to invest in the development of new soybean traits that will benefit farmers shows the U.S. patent system provides incentive for innovation.
The transition of Roundup Ready soybean technology into the public domain represents another benefit – patent expiration provides a means for public access to this technology.
This system motivates individuals as well as companies, to invest in all types of new technologies that make U.S. farmers and our economy more competitive.
Roundup Ready Trait and Soybean Variety Patents
Despite the advantage of the Genuity™ Roundup Ready 2 Yield trait, some farmers may want to use Roundup Ready soybean technology following the end of the trait patent.
Many Roundup Ready varieties are also covered by variety patents and plant variety protection certificates. Monsanto will continue to enforce its intellectual property, including variety patents, with respect to commercial and developmental use of patented Roundup Ready varieties after the patent expiry.
However, as stated above, Monsanto will not use variety patents against U.S. farmers who save soybean varieties containing the Roundup Ready trait for planting on their own farms after patent expiration.