Bowman v. Monsanto Co., 133 S. Ct. 1059 (2013) (Kagan).  For the Court’s slip opinion, click here.Bowman05132013

Bowman, a unanimous opinion by Justice Kagan, addresses the issue of exhaustion in the context of a patent claiming genetically modified plant seeds.  Justice Kagan has a growing reputation for authoring opinions in a lucid, clear, and concise style, which sometimes use clever phrases (such as, in this case, characterizing an infringer’s position as the “blame-the-bean defense”).

The opinion begins with a short summary of the issue and holding:

“Under the doctrine of patent exhaustion, the authorized sale of a patented article gives the purchaser, or any subsequent owner, a right to use or resell that article. Such a sale, however, does not allow the purchaser to make new copies of the patented invention. The question in this case is whether a farmer who buys patented seeds may reproduce them through planting and harvesting without the patent holder’s permission. We hold that he may not.” Read CPLRG™ 0084