In mid-March I posted this blog summarizing Monsanto’s victory over a group of farmers and producers. The farmers were looking to prevent future patent infringment claims by Monsanto for inadvertent planting or harvesting seed contaminated by Monsanto’s genetically modified seed. The following telephone coversation occurred shortly after the judge ruled in Monsanto’s favor:
Counsel for farmers: “Good afternoon, congratulations on obtaining the judgment in your favor, but surely you did not think we would let the decision stand withough appealing.”
Monsanto: “Well thank you, and we fully expected there would be an appeal. Oh, and don’t call me surely.”
Actually, I don’t know if that conversation occurred and even if there was a conversation, it probably did not include a quote from the movie Airplane. But the point is the farmers’ appeal was not unexpected. The farmers’ responses to the court’s decision can be found in this article: Farmers Determined To Defend Right To Grow Food File Appeal In OSGATA Vs. Monsanto.
Despite the farmers’ strong response, they may not have the legal groundwork to support an appeal. The court of appeals will have to decide whether the district court’s decision was an “abuse of discretion”, which is legal mumbo jumbo for “totally screwed up”. Appellate courts are not generally inclined to overturn a decision for “abuse of discretion” unless the district court had absolutely no support for the ruling. In finding for Monsanto, the district court carefully outlined several facts to support it decision.
From a strictly legal perspective, the farmers’ have some heavy lifting to get the order overturned. However, it would not be the first or last time I was surprised by a court of appeals decision if the farmers were successful.