Seed company giants reach agreement on technology
Seed giants DuPont and Monsanto have been in and out of legal battles since the mid-1990s when the first glyphosate-tolerant seeds were released. The battle heated up again when Du- Pont Pioneer made plans to combine the original Roundup Ready trait with its herbicide resistance traits, which led to a lawsuit brought on by Monsanto.
In August, a federal jury agreed, and ordered DuPont to pay $1 billion to Monsanto for patent infringement.
But the two companies now seem to be working together, focusing on the need to combine the two technologies.
In a joint press release, DuPont and Monsanto announced a series of technology licensing agreements that will expand the range of seed products they can offer farmers. The agreements include a multi-year, royalty-bearing license for Monsanto’s next-generation soybean technologies in the U.S. and Canada.
Through these agreements, DuPont Pioneer will be able to offer Genuity® Roundup Ready 2 Yield® soybeans as early as 2014, and Genuity® Roundup Ready 2 Xtend™ glyphosate and dicamba tolerant soybeans as early as 2015, pending regulatory approvals.
DuPont Pioneer also will receive regulatory data rights for the soybean and corn traits previously licensed from Monsanto, enabling it to create a wide array of stacked trait combinations using traits or genetics from DuPont Pioneer or others. Monsanto will receive access to certain Du- Pont Pioneer disease resistance and corn defoliation patents.
“This technology exchange helps both companies to expand the range of innovative solutions we can offer farmers, and to do so faster than either of us could alone,” said DuPont Pioneer President Paul E. Schickler. “The agreements broaden the Pioneer soybean line-up. Importantly, they give us greater flexibility in developing combinations of genetics and traits to help feed an increasingly crowded planet.”
Schickler reaffirmed Du- Pont’s existing financial growth commitments for its Agriculture segment.
“We’ve always agreed that technological innovation and farmer choice are essential to agriculture, and this agreement endorses the value of our next-generation soybean technologies,” said Brett Begemann, Monsanto president and chief commercial officer. “This signals a new approach to our companies doing business together, allowing two of the leaders in the industry to focus on bringing farmers the best products possible while working to advance innovation and long-term opportunity for agriculture.”
Under these agreements, DuPont Pioneer will make a series of upfront and variable-based royalty payments subject to future delivery of enabling soybean genetic material. It will make four annual fixed royalty payments from 2014 to 2017 totaling $802 million for trait technology, associated data, and soybean lines to support commercial introduction. Additionally, beginning in 2018, DuPont Pioneer will pay royalties on a per unit basis of Genuity Roundup Ready 2 Yield® and Genuity Roundup Ready 2 Xtend™ for the life of the agreement for continued technology access, subject to annual minimum payments through 2023 totaling $950 million. DuPont is filing a Form 8-K containing additional information about the impact of these agreements on the company. A copy of the 8-K is available on the DuPont Investor Center at www.investors.dupont.com.
DuPont and Monsanto also agreed to dismiss their respective antitrust and first-generation Roundup Ready® soybean patent lawsuits pending in U.S. federal court in St. Louis.
Additional terms of the agreements were not disclosed. — Traci Eatherton, WLJ Editor