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University of Iowa News Release

Aug. 2, 2005

Janis Discusses Agricultural Intellectual Property Law With Farm Bureau

University of Iowa law professor Mark Janis discussed legal issues surrounding intellectual property rights in plant biotechnology at the American Farm Bureau's biotechnology conference Friday in Indianapolis.

Janis, an expert in intellectual property law, presented on "Intellectual Property For Plants." Among other topics, he criticized news stories about intellectual property rights in agriculture as frequently alarmist.

"There's a certain amount of hysteria about the enforcement of patents and patent license agreements against growers," said Janis. "But it's unjustified."  According to Janis, reports that imply that growers will routinely face jail time for violating patents reflect a misunderstanding of patent law because the patent laws do not provide for criminal penalties. "You can, however, get into trouble in any type of case, including a patent case, if you've lied to a judge or destroyed evidence. That happened in a recent patent case against a grower, and it was reported as if the criminal penalty resulted from the patent violation, which is entirely incorrect."

Other topics covered at the conference included government regulation, non-food and feed uses for ag biotechnology, animal biotechnology, biotechnology and trade and crop technology fees.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Service, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Snee, 319-384-0010,