Asgrow Seed Co. v. Winterboer, 513 U.S. 179, 7 (1995)

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Cite as: 513 U. S. 179 (1995)

Opinion of the Court

The Winterboers argued that this language gave them the right to sell an unlimited amount of seed produced from a protected variety, subject only to the conditions that both buyer and seller be farmers "whose primary farming occupation is the growing of crops for sale for other than reproductive purposes," and that all sales comply with state law. As-grow maintained that the exemption allows a farmer to save and resell to other farmers only the amount of seed the seller would need to replant his own fields—a limitation that the Winterboers' sales greatly exceeded. The District Court agreed with Asgrow and granted summary judgment in its favor. 795 F. Supp. 915 (1991).

The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed. 982 F. 2d 486 (1992). Although "recogniz[ing] that, without meaningful limitations, the crop exemption [of 2543] could undercut much of the PVPA's incentives," id., at 491, the Court of Appeals saw nothing in 2543 that would limit the sale of protected seed (for reproductive purposes) to the amount necessary to plant the seller's own acreage. Rather, as the Court of Appeals read the statute, 2543 permits a farmer to sell up to half of every crop he produces from PVPA-protected seed to another farmer for use as seed, so long as he sells the other 50 percent of the crop grown from that specific variety for nonreproductive purposes, e. g., for food or feed. The Federal Circuit denied Asgrow's petition for rehearing and suggestion for rehearing en banc by a vote of six judges to five. 989 F. 2d 478 (1993). We granted certiorari. 511 U. S. 1029 (1994).


It may be well to acknowledge at the outset that it is quite impossible to make complete sense of the provision at issue

present case, since the amendments affect only those certificates issued after April 4, 1995, that were not pending on or before that date. See id., 14(a), 15, 108 Stat. 3144, 3145.


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