Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously affirmed that patent exhaustion does not extend to the purchaser of a patented plant who then replicates it but does not pay the patent owner for that replication. Bowman v. Monsanto Co., No. 11-796.
In this decision, a farmer named Vernon Bowman purchased patented soybean seeds from Monsanto that were resistant to the popular Roundup weed killer. After reharvesting the seeds that he purchased from a grain elevator, Mr. Bowman saved seeds from that harvest and replanted them the following season, instead of purchasing seeds or paying Monsanto for those new seeds that he created.