NOTE: Monsanto has become infamous for its ruthless pursuit of farmers over supposed infringements of its licencing rights. But Monsanto, according to the article below, stands accused of patent violations over low-linolenic soybeans. These soybeans were conventionally bred and only became GM when Monsanto added a transgene for resistance to its herbicide Roundup.
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Iowa State Professors File Patent Lawsuit Against Monsanto
The Associated Press, May 24 2007
Two Iowa State University professors have filed a lawsuit claiming Monsanto Co. infringed on their patent on a low-acid soybean.
The lawsuit claims that the St. Louis-based company began their own soybean program based on the low-acid bean invented at Iowa State without "license or authority from" the university and "now licenses Iowa State's technology to others."
The lawsuit said that Iowa State research foundation professors Walter Fehr and Earl Hammond have been awarded several U.S. patents related to soybeans with low linolenic acid. After the patents were issued, Monsanto began marketing the soybeans.
Low linolenic acid is associated with lower trans fat levels in soybean oil, making it healthier.
"Demand for the oil from the food industry has been high because of its excellent frying and flavor stability without the hydrogenation process that creates trans fats," according to the university's Web site.
The lawsuit claims the university challenged Monsanto, which sent a letter to Iowa State saying the company "stands ready to perform under the agreement reached with the university at our meeting of Feb. 28."
Iowa State claims there was no agreement.
A telephone message left Tuesday for a Monsanto spokeswoman was not immediately returned.