DuPont, BASF sue each other over herbicide patents
Reuters, June 1 2009
NEW YORK - Chemicals makers DuPont Co (DD.N) and BASF (BASF.DE) sued each other on Monday charging patent infringement over technology used in herbicides.
BASF's suit, filed in United States District Court for the District of Delaware, seeks an injunction and damages against DuPont and its subsidiary Pioneer Hi-Bred International for unlawful use of BASF's patented technology.
BASF's Plant Science unit also seeks to declare invalid and unenforceable DuPont patents for technology relating to herbicide tolerance.
The suit alleges DuPont's Optimum GAT corn product incorporates BASF's patented promoter, which is an important genetic component that enables successful tolerance toward an herbicide class known as AHAS or ALS inhibitors.
"After prolonged discussions with DuPont failed to yield an acceptable commercial solution, BASF decided to enforce its rights by filing this lawsuit," Hans Kast, BASF Plant Science president and chief executive officer said in a statement.
Earlier, DuPont filed a lawsuit claiming BASF is infringing four patents relating to biotechnology traits similar to those used in DuPont's proprietary Optimum GAT trait.
The patents listed in the suit confer tolerance to ALS inhibitors and pertain to certain methods for controlling weeds, DuPont said.
The company's lawsuit, also filed on Monday in the federal court in Delaware, seeks reasonable compensation. It also asks the court to declare BASF patents on a trait promoter invalid and rule that DuPont does not infringe those patents when it uses its own proprietary trait in ALS tolerant crops.
"We respect valid intellectual property claims of others and expect them to do the same," said DuPont vice president James Borel. "It was only after efforts to seek clarity from BASF failed that we decided to take today's action."
In May, Monsanto Co (MON.N), the world's biggest seed company, sued DuPont for unlawful use of its proprietary Roundup Ready herbicide tolerant technologies.
Monsanto's suit, filed in federal court in St Louis against DuPont and Pioneer, says Pioneer is misusing the Roundup Ready trait to mask problems with Optimum GAT.
(Reporting Steve James; Editing Bernard Orr)