A federal judge says DuPont Pioneer engaged in fraud in its defense against a patent infringement lawsuit by rival Monsanto, the Des Moines Register reports this week.
A federal court jury in St. Louis in August awarded Monsanto $1 billion in damages from DuPont Pioneer.
The jury cited Pioneer’s unauthorized stacking in soybeans of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready genetic seed technology with its own seed traits.
Pioneer’s parent, DuPont, plans to appeal the verdict and maintains it has told the truth.
The judge’s ruling and the verdict are part of what Judge Richard Webber called a “vitriolic” legal battle over patent infringement.
The two companies control about two-thirds of the North American corn and soybean seed business.
Webber, in preliminary rulings written a year ago but unsealed only recently, said e-mails from DuPont Pioneer executives showed that the company knew as early as 2002 that it could not combine, or “stack,” Pioneer biotechnology traits with Monsanto’s Roundup Ready genetic trait.
Pioneer had stacked the traits in a new line of soybean seeds it originally intended to introduce in 2010.
In its defense, DuPont Pioneer wanted to assert that it always believed that its licensing agreement with Monsanto for Roundup Ready genetic traits would allow it to mix the Monsanto trait with its own traits.
But Webber said that e-mails from Pioneer executives introduced as evidence by Monsanto showed “clear and convincing evidence that Defendants (DuPont Pioneer) intentionally have made misrepresentations to the court and in doing so, have perpetrated a fraud against the court.”
“Such conduct is an abuse of the judicial process and is sanctionable,” Webber said.