Differing interpretations by the government and the industry on the interoperability of the Indian Patent Act and the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act have caused uncertainty over future technology investments that could cause damage to cotton farmers across the country.
A letter dated June 16 to the agriculture secretary, Additional Solicitor-General (ASG) Tushar Mehta said, “It is my considered opinion that the central government must file written submissions confining to the questions of law and without touching upon the internal disputes between the two private companies.”
Mehta was responding to a letter written by the agriculture secretary on May 31 seeking a legal view on the various court cases filed by Monsanto and Nuziveedu Seeds over use of the former’s patented technology despite the termination of sub-licence agreements.
Following representations by cotton farmers claiming Monsanto charged different seed prices across states, the government issued the Cotton Seeds Price (Control) Order, 2015, under the Essential Commodities Act to fix seed prices based on the “trait value” along with a patent fee for the developer.
“Any decision on the point of law in the appeal would have a direct impact not only on the interpretation of the existing Indian Patent law as well as PPV&FR Act but also on all pending writ petitions that are being defended by the central government and other central agencies” Mehta’s letter added.
Earlier, the agriculture ministry had filed a reference before the Competition Commission of India against Monsanto and its subsidiaries for anti-competitive business practices.
The CCI found a prima facie case of violation of various sections of the Competition Act and directed an investigation against Monsanto and its subsidiary companies.