Pioneer starts intellectual property protection

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DuPont Pioneer is initiating its own Partners in Innovation Intellectual Property Protection program in 2013, which means that purchasers of soybean seed from the company could be subject to an on-farm visit by officials representing the company.

“We will start a product compliance system in 2013,” said Randy Schlatter, senior manager, intellectual property for DuPont Pioneer. The compliance enforcement for farmers to meet the seed agreement on each bag of soybean seed purchased comes at a time that the original Roundup Ready patent is expiring. This means that Monsanto will not be enforcing patent infringement on seed containing this genetic trait in future years.

Schlatter explained that DuPont Pioneer seed has a lot more patented innovations in the seed other than just glyphosate herbicide resistance. The patented traits include native traits that have been isolated. There are many patented innovations such as Accelerated Yield Technology and plant variety protection that lead to higher yield, disease resistance and insect resistance.

“We are strong believers that yield comes from genetics,” Schlatter said. The company has more than 225 existing soybean seed patents. “Intellectual property protection leads to improved products and increased yield potential,” he noted.

DuPont Pioneer contends it is for mutual benefit for the company and growers to protect intellectual property, but there has been little such enforcement checking from other than Monsanto prior to the Roundup Ready herbicide resistance-traited seed headed off patent. Schlatter admitted, “This is fairly new to us…We’ve been able to let someone else take the lead in the past.”

The kind of compliance checking that DuPont Pioneer will be doing in the U.S. was already done in Canada, and the private company that conducted the compliance checks over the border will be doing the checks in the U.S. in 2013.

Randomly selected purchasers of soybean seed will be contacted and a meeting set up. The farmer will then be responsible for producing purchase records, acres planted with the seed, populations planted and the field locations. Calculations will determine if the seed use jives with what the farmer reports, and then the compliance representative will take leaf samples to check DNA of the soybean plants.

Schlatter said farmers will “receive a nice gift” for cooperating with the compliance check, and DuPont Pioneer doesn’t want to upset any of its customers. “We want people who go through this to have a positive or neutral reaction,” he said. He also noted that 95 percent of the farmers who went through the process in Canada last year reported it being a neutral to positive experience.

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