Monsanto’s patent battle in India referred to High Court

Monsanto’s ongoing battle in India to uphold its patent on GM cottonseed has been referred to the Single Judge Bench of the High Court, who will rule on patentability after hearing expert evidence.

Monsanto has been locked in a legal battle for years with Indian seeds companies, led by the Nuziveedu Seeds Ltd.

In November 2016, a Single Judge Bench of the High Court restrained Nuziveedu from selling Bt cotton seeds using the trademark of Monsanto or its Indian partner Mahyco Monsanto, according to GMWatch. However, a Division Bench of the Delhi High Court overturned the order in April 2018, ruling that certain items such as seeds, animals and plants cannot be patented under Indian law. Monsanto appealed against this ruling.

On 8 January, the Supreme Court ruled that it was incorrect for the Division Bench to rule on patentability without expert evidence.

“The Supreme Court felt that the issue of whether Monsanto’s patent is valid or not under the Patents Act would need to be determined by the Single Judge,” Nuziveedu told Hindu Business Line.

“The court has held that the validity of Monsanto’s patent can only be judged after evidence is led by both parties, and at the final and not the interim stage.”

The court held that the applicability of the Patents Act, the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act (PPVFRA) and the country’s obligations under the World Trade Organization (WTO) would be examined at the stage of final arguments, Nuziveedu added.
“Seed companies and farmers are encouraged by the judgement as it is open to them to contend that no patents can be exercised on genetically modified seeds.”