The University of California’s intervention is a big deal, even if it was to be expected. UC’s amicus brief (which was actually spearheaded by a Wisconsin university research foundation) was co-signed by other schools that have close ties to big agribusiness such as the universities of Iowa, Illinois, Florida, and Nebraska. Joining them are the lobbying organizations of these schools which work to influence intellectual property laws, and to obtain research subsidies for their institutions. The entry of this academic coalition into the case creates the appearance of a broad public interest in upholding Monsanto’s legal position in part because these are mostly major public land grant universities.
UC and its co-signatories argue in their brief that Bowman’s seed saving stands to undermine scientific and technological “progress,” and could even harm the public welfare. By failing to penalize Mr. Bowman for buying and using saved seeds that contained a patented gene, UC argues that the Supreme Court:
“would impair technology transfer operations and ultimately deny the public the benefits of existing and yet-unknown artificial, progenitive technologies. The first buyers of artificial, progenitive technology could make an unlimited number of identical copies of the invention without having to compensate the patentee for those subsequent copies. In a short period of time, the market for the technology would become saturated with copies. The patent owner and its licensees would effectively lose the right to exclude others from practicing the patented technology over the full statutory term of the patent—which is a fundamental right conferred by the patent system. This would devalue existing patents directed to artificial, progenitive technologies and remove any incentive for private sector entities to license and develop future technologies of this kind. Ultimately, the public may never benefit from such inventions.”