The Classic David vs Goliath Struggle.....
claims moral and personal victory in Supreme Court Decision
by Percy Schmeiser
May 22, 2004
The Supreme Court handed down their decision yesterday and I have mixed emotions to it. I have received many phone calls and emails from concerned supporters and friends and I appreciate this very much. It was a personal victory and I want to thank my lawyer Terry Zakreski for his dedication and perseverance on my behalf. On the broader issues of my case, I regret that things did not work out for my supporters.
I do not have to pay Monsanto one cent for profits, damages, penalties, court costs or their technology use fee of $15/acre. I feel good about this ruling, as I have said all along that I didn't take advantage or profit from Monsanto's technology in my fields. I am pleased that the Supreme Court felt that way as well. It has been my position that I didn't want their technology in my fields, that I didn't use their technology by spraying, didn't sell their technology as seed to another farmer and didn't earn any profit from it. I felt it hard to accept that I should have to pay them for it.
I believe that Monsanto will have a hard time in pursuing patent infringement against other farmers. They are now going to have to prove that a farmer profited from having RR canola in their field. The Court noted that my profits were the same whether I had conventional canola or RR canola, so I find it hard to see how Monsanto can say in any future case that the farmer made more money because of their product. This decision may have removed the "teeth" from their patent.
I also believe that Monsanto will face huge liability issues down the road. The Court determined that they have ownership to the plant and that I infringed by having it in my field. With ownership comes responsibility and I assume more lawsuits will be filed against them for the contamination of farmer's fields. I was always concerned about this lack of responsibility that Monsanto took for the unconfined release of RR canola in western Canada. I think the Court's decision will force them to be held accountable for it now.
On the bigger issue of whether or not their patent was valid, the Court ruled that it is, and we have to accept that judgment. For this to be changed our Parliament will have to act. We have a conflict between plants breeder's rights and patent law and the government will have to sort that out. All I did was save my seed from year to year. Now it is clear that a company's patent will take precedence over the rights of farmer's to save and reuse their seed.
Farmers should be concerned about this judgment as they now may lose their ability to continue with this practice. I believe that this ruling is an injustice and Parliament must act to ensure that farmer's rights are protected. The playing field between farmer rights and the bio-tech companies rights has been tilted towards the companies with this decision.
I have always campaigned on the right of a farmer to save and re-use his own seed. This is what I have been doing for the last 50 years. I will continue to support any efforts to strengthen the rights of a farmer to save and re-use his own seed.
In the near future, I plan on spending more time with my wife, children, grandchildren and friends. They have been very supportive of my efforts and I want to thank them for it. I could not have done this without them. I also wish to thank the countless supporters that I had. I have met many people, groups and organizations that gave me personal, moral and financial support. I won't name them all at the risk of forgetting someone. I still have legal bills to pay and I am grateful to all for any past and future contributions.
Louise and I have made many friends and acquaintances in this crusade and we will cherish those memories and friendships forever.
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