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Elaine M. Schamber

Agronomy Department
Purdue University
Seeds of Dissension: A Case Study in Patenting Genetic Material

A possible act of industrial espionage is the backdrop for this case study, which introduces students to analytical techniques routinely used in most areas of biotechnology, including forensic science and patent lawsuits. In this fictional case, "Roger Wezel," formerly employed at ExOil developing soybean seeds high in oleic acid, now works at a competing company, SeedGene Inc., after befing fired by ExOil over a dispute with his boss. ExOil has just discovered that Roger is at SeedGene, and also that SeedGene is now advertising high-oil soybean seeds. ExOil suspects that Roger stole their seeds and gave them to SeedGene to produce their own high oleic acid variety. ExOil wants to test some of the seeds from their competitor to see if they are the same strain in order to support their accusation that SeedGene is violating their patent. The case is designed for use with advanced biology students or introductory genetics students.