The Supreme Court said Monday that an Indiana farmer violated Monsanto Co.'s patents on soybean seeds resistant to its weed-killer by growing the beans without buying new seeds from the corporation.
The justices unanimously rejected the farmer's argument that cheap soybeans he bought from a grain elevator are not covered by the Monsanto patents, even though most of them also were genetically modified to resist the company's Roundup herbicide.
While Monsanto won this case, the court refused to make a sweeping decision that would cover other self-replicating technologies like DNA molecules and nanotechnologies, leaving that for another day. Businesses and researchers had been closely watching this case in hopes of getting guidance on patents, but Justice Elena Kagan said the court's holding Monday only "addresses the situation before us."
In a statement, Monsanto officials said they were pleased with the court's ruling.
DNA may be the building block of life, but can something taken from it also be the building block of a multimillion-dollar medical monopoly?
The Supreme Court grapples Monday with the question of whether human genes can be patented. Its ultimate answer could reshape U.S. medical research, the fight against diseases like breast and ovarian cancer and the multi-billion dollar medical and biotechnology business.
"The intellectual framework that comes out of the decision could have a significant impact on other patents - for antibiotics, vaccines, hormones, stem cells and diagnostics on infectious microbes that are found in nature," Robert Cook-Deegan, director for genome ethics, law & policy at Duke University, said in a statement.
"This could affect agricultural biotechnology, environmental biotechnology, green-tech, the use of organisms to produce alternative fuels and other applications," he said.
The nine justices' decision will also have a profound effect on American business, with billions of dollars of investment and years of research on the line. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has been awarding patents on human genes for almost 30 years.
A Chinese court has ordered Apple Inc. to pay 1.03 million yuan ($165,000) to eight Chinese writers and two companies who say unlicensed copies of their work were distributed through Apple's online store.
The Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People's Court ruled Thursday that Apple violated the writers' copyrights by allowing applications containing their work to be distributed through its App Store, according to an official who answered the phone at the court and said he was the judge in the case. He refused to give his name, as is common among Chinese officials.
The award was less than the 12 million yuan ($1.9 million) sought by the authors. The case grouped together eight lawsuits filed by them and their publishers.
An Apple spokeswoman, Carolyn Wu, said the company's managers "take copyright infringement complaints very seriously." She declined to say whether the company would appeal.
Unlicensed copying of books, music, software and other products is widespread in China despite repeated government promises to stamp out violations.
Apple's agreement with application developers requires them to confirm they have obtained rights to material distributed through the company's App Store.
"We're always updating our service to better assist content owners in protecting their rights," Wu said.
The Chinese writers said they saw applications containing unlicensed versions of their books last year.
Apple Inc. on Monday gave a federal judge a list of eight Samsung Electronics Co. products it wants pulled from shelves and banned from the U.S. market, including popular Galaxy model smartphones.
U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh asked for the list after a jury in San Jose last week slammed Samsung with a $1.05 billion verdict, finding that the South Korean technology giant had "willfully" copied Apple's iPhone and iPad in creating and marketing the products. Samsung plans an appeal.
The products Apple wants out are all smartphones: Galaxy S 4G, Galaxy S2 AT&T, Galaxy S2, Galaxy S2 T-Mobile, Galaxy S2 Epic 4G, Galaxy S Showcase, Droid Charge and Galaxy Prevail.
Koh on June 26 banned the Galaxy Tab 10.1 from the U.S. market after finding it likely violated a "design patent." Samsung is now asking for that ban to be lifted after the jury found the computer tablet didn't infringe that particular patent, but it did find it infringed three Apple's software patents that cover the popular "bounce-back" and pinch-to-zoom features.
The judge has scheduled a Sept. 20 hearing to discuss Apple's demands for the sales bans. She asked Apple on Friday to submit the list of products its wants removed from U.S. stores after Samsung complained that it doesn't have enough time to prepare for the scheduled hearing.
Two tech titans will square off in federal court Monday in a closely watched trial over control of the U.S. smartphone and computer tablet markets.
Apple Inc. filed a lawsuit against Samsung Electronics Co. last year alleging the world's largest technology company's smartphones and computer tablets are illegal knockoffs of its popular iPhone and iPad products. The Cupertino-based company is demanding $2.5 billion in damages, an award that would dwarf the largest patent-related verdict to date.
Samsung counters that Apple is doing the stealing and that some of the technology at issue — such as the rounded rectangular designs of smartphones and tablets — has been industry standards for years.
The U.S. trial is just the latest skirmish between the two over product designs. A similar trial began last week, and the two companies have been fighting in courts in the United Kingdom and Germany. The case is one of some 50 lawsuits among myriad telecommunications companies jockeying for position in the burgeoning $219 billion market for smartphones and computer tablets.
In the United States, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose last month ordered Samsung to pull its Galaxy 10.1 computer tablet from the U.S. market pending the outcome of the trial, though the judge barred Apple attorneys from telling the jurors about the ban.
A German court has dismissed an Apple lawsuit seeking to ban the sale of Motorola’s Xoom tablet computer throughout the European Union.
In its case, Apple Inc claimed the Motorola product infringed its intellectual property because its design was too similar to the iPad.
In its verdict Tuesday, the court in the western city of Duesseldorf also rejected a request by Google-owned Motorola to declare Apple’s so-called Community design rights for the iPad invalid.
Community design rights are meant to protect the distinctive appearance of industrial products.
Apple and Motorola have clashed repeatedly over intellectual property issues.
The companies have 30 days to appeal the verdict to a higher court.
A court in Germany ruled Wednesday that Microsoft infringed two patents held by Motorola Mobility, in a case that could affect sales of its popular Xbox 360 console and the Windows 7 operating system.
The patent spat between the two companies centers on technology owned by Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc., which Google is in the process of buying for $12.5 billion.
Microsoft and Apple Corp. have filed a complaint with the European Union's competition watchdog alleging Motorola unfairly limited rivals from using its patents by demanding exorbitant fees.
In Wednesday's ruling, the state court in the southern city of Mannheim upheld Motorola's complaint on the patent breaches and declared Microsoft Corp. liable for unspecified damages.
The court also ordered Microsoft to remove all products that infringe the patents from the German market, including its Xbox 360 console and the Windows 7 operating system.
But both parties have seven days to appeal before the verdict comes into force, and Microsoft spokesman Thomas Baumgaertner said the company plans to do so. Should Motorola want the verdict enforced before a final appeals ruling is issued, it would have to deposit several tens of millions of dollars as a legal security, the court said.