Patenting Nature: The Next Generation in Patent Trolling……Up Next Patenting Air

My kids love the movie “The Lorax.”  My personal favorite character in the movie is Aloysius O’Hare who formed a company for bottled air, called O’Hare Air.  It exploits the environmental collapse by selling bottled air to the people of Thneedville, a city full of bad oxygen.

Entering the Real Life Thneedville;  Patenting Seeds & Nature:

Aasif Mandvi of “”The Daily Show”” as funny as it seems recently covered a very interesting topic investigating the recent Monsanto patent wars with small-town farmers.  Click here for video 

Mandvi reported that the biotechnology companies, namely Monsanto, are getting upset at some of the practices of the average farmer when it comes to using patented seeds. Yes, Monsanto and other companies have successfully patented seeds, and will take you or anyone else to court should you violate the monster company’s stringent and widespread rules involving the planting process.

You might ask how often, though does this actually happen? Mandvi cited a study that found Monsanto alone brings roughly 500 farmers to court every year. The average farmer, or small business owner for that matter, could never, ever dream of competing with Monsanto in a court of law. In fact, even groups wouln’tbe able to.

Mandvi interviewed Troy Rush who is the acting Vice President of the American Corn Growers Association who said that the average bill for initial attorney’s fees and other litigation costs in a patent infringement lawsuit is hundreds of thousands of dollars. This, Rush argued, essentially forces farmers to “fall in line” with Monsanto’s rules.

One of the more crippling aspects of the patent rules is that the farmers are prohibited from using the seeds from a previous harvest the following year. This has been the way of life for farmers spanning back since before written history. Mandvi joked that Monsanto effectively “did what farmers haven’t been able to do for millennia – make royalties off of nature.”

No laughing matter:

Though Mandvi’s piece for The Daily Show was certainly hilarious, this is only one harrowing example of how crippling patents can be, and how convoluted surrounding litigation can become. Many of the biggest companies in the world continue to have raging patent battles with one another, while the little man has been left out to dry.

It does have to make you wonder, though, how long will it be until the air you breathe is patented?


Daily Show report

The Lorax

Monsanto Beats Farmers’ Bid To Block Stray Seed IP Suits