A court ruling in favor of Dow AgroSciences over Pioneer Hi-Bred, owned by DuPont, was issued late last year in Indianapolis. The suit centered over whether Pioneer was violating licensing agreements with Mycogen, a subsidiary of Dow AgroSicences, by licensing technology the two companies had developed together to other seed companies through Pioneer's PROaccess seed business.
Through PROaccess, Pioneer either makes certain lines available to independent companies, or provides these lines to companies which Pioneer has acquired, but which may also still sell germplasm from some other foundation seed companies. It took lawyers and a judge to decide if the complicated language of the regional agreement covered Pioneer's new venture or not.
Local companies that stood to be affected include Beck's Hybrids, an independent, Atlanta, Burrus Hybrids, in northern Illinois, also an independent, and Seed Consultants,. Inc., who at the time was an independent company operating out of Washington Courthouse Ohio.
Most insiders predicted that companies with PROaccess brands would still be able to sell the seed to customers for 2011 planting, and that there might be bag design changes for 2012. However, some competitive companies were making hay, warning customers of companies selling PROaccess hybrids that those companies might not be able to deliver the seed, should the judge issue an injunction.
After considering options, Chris Jeffries, president of Seed Consultants, Washington Courthouse, Ohio, decided to allow Pioneer to acquire the company, apparently tiring of potential courtroom politics, although Seed Consultants, Inc., itself had not been sued over these genetic issues.
Then just last week, Dow AgroSciences, Indianapolis, and Pioneer on behalf of DuPont issued notice of an out–of-court settlement , saying the dispute regarding marketing of certain corn seed products had been resolved.
As specified in the resolution, Pioneer will continue to distribute those products through its PROaccess system, with modified packaging. No further terms were disclosed about the resolution.
A press release issued by Dow indicated it was 'an example of how trait and germplasm developers can cooperate to enable independent seed companies and others to provide creative productivity-enhancing solutions to the farmer.' The press release came less than two months after the court decisions was announced.