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Court of Justice limits DNA protection in Monsanto case

In its first foray into substantive patent law, the Court of Justice of the EU has said that DNA sequences can only be protected when they perform the function specified in the patent

The decision of the Grand Chamber of the Court of Justice was published today, even though the dispute between Monstanto and Cafetra was settled on June 23.

The Court was asked to address four questions on the interpretation of the 1998 EU Biotech Directive by a court in the Netherlands, after Monsanto sued Cafetra, which was importing soy meal from Argentina.

Monsanto alleged that the soy infringed its European patent for Glyphosate tolerant 5-enolpyruvylshikimate-3-phosphate synthases, which was granted in 1996. The invention is used in its Roundup Ready soya plants.

While the Dutch court agreed that the imported soy included the DNA sequence covered by Monsanto’s patent, it was uncertain whether there was infringement as the DNA sequence was no longer performing its intended function in the (dead) soy meal.

In response to the questions, the...

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