Summary: DuPont had a nonexclusive license of Monsanto’s genetically modified soybean seeds that included a trait to tolerate glyphosate herbicide. DuPont subsequently developed its own glyphosate tolerant trait to tolerate glyphosate as well as an acetolactate synthase inhibitor herbicide, however, the Du Pont traits did not provide sufficient glyphosate tolerance. DuPont then combined its trait with Monsanto’s trait to provide increased tolerance. Monsanto sued for breach of license, but DuPont argued that it understood the license to cover combining the two traits. Later produced documents indicated that DuPont misrepresented its understanding of the license. The district court sanctioned DuPont by striking DuPont’s contract reformation defense and counterclaims and awarding attorney fees to Monsanto.

Case: Monsanto Company v. E.I. DuPont de Nemours and CompanyNo. 2013-1349 (Fed. Cir. May 9, 2014) (precedential). On appeal from E.D.Mo. Before Lourie, Reyna, and Wallach.

Procedural Posture: Defendant E.I. DuPont appealed district court’s final judgment to impose sanctions that struck DuPont’s contract reformation defense and counterclaims and awarded attorney fees to plaintiff Monsanto. CAFC affirmed.

  • Sanctions: District court did not abuse its discretion in imposing narrowly-tailored sanctions for making factual misrepresentations, as a district court possesses inherent powers to manage its affairs to achieve the orderly and expeditious disposition of cases. The district court was clear that DuPont was being sanctioned for knowingly making factual misrepresentations concerning its subjective belief in order to maintain its reformation claims.