Monsanto to Bitter Greens: "Cease" and Desist
Yesterday the farming project I work for, Maverick Farms, received the following extraordinary e-mail. I don't have time to respond now, as we're scrambling to put on our monthly farm dinner. Given Monsanto's record of suing farmers, I suppose I should stifle guffaws and take it seriously. For now, though, I'll delight in having tweaked a transnational corporation valued in the marketplace at a cool $17 billion. Here's the letter. I will respond when I get a chance. (Readers should also note that I'm putting the finishing touches on a post about the current oil crunch.)
Dear Mr. Philpott,
I am the trademark and copyright attorney for Monsanto Company, the owner of the Roundup Ready(R) trademark. The attached link is to the Bitter Greens Journal which features the name "Roundup, ready" as the title of one of its features. Roundup Ready(R) is a well known trademark which is registered by Monsanto not only in the United States, but in many countries throughout the word [sic]. As you have pointed out in the column, Roundup Ready(R) is famous in the agricultural industry.
While you have stated in your column that you chose the name "Roundup, ready" in honor of Monsanto's famed line of seeds, we must object to this use and request that you change the name for the following reasons:
1) You are using our trademark without our consent. This use of the term could cause your readers to think that your journal is in some way sponsored by Monsanto or that Monsanto supports the positions set out in your journal.
2) You are using our trademark in an incorrect manner (with a comma and in a way that genericizes the mark). This weakens our trademark rights.
I would appreciate your confirmation that you will change the name of this column and cease using "Roundup, ready" or any form of our trademark as the name of a feature or in an incorrect manner in your journal. We appreciate your cooperation in this matter.
Very truly yours,
Assistant General Counsel - Trademarks