Finally, I suggested two big questions that these new statutes left unanswered: (1) does a living organism other than a plant fall within the patentable subject matter categories for regular utility patents?; and (2) do plants, and seeds, fall within the patentable subject matter categories for regular utility patents? These questions, especially the second, are pressing because utility patent protection is stronger than either of the special protections designed just for plants.
Part 1: Monsanto sells a glyphosate-based herbicide called “Roundup.” Monsanto also sells seeds for crops – such as soy, corn, sugar beet, cotton, and others – that are genetically engineered to resist Roundup. Monsanto calls these seeds “Roundup Ready.” Patent law was critical to Monsanto’s business strategy, on both the herbicide and crop seed sides […]