ABS Global, Inc., a world leader in bovine genetics, confirms the filing of legal proceedings against Inguran LLC (doing business as Sexing Technologies, or “ST”), alleging that ST has acquired and maintained a monopoly in processing sexed bovine semen through anti-competitive and exclusionary conduct, in breach of various U.S. state and federal competition statutes. These proceedings were filed on July 14 in the U.S. District Court in the Western District of Wisconsin.
“ST’s practices not only limit choices for genetics and artificial insemination companies, but more importantly, they inhibit scientific progress important to our dairy and beef customers,” says Jesus Martinez, ABS global director of business development. “We believe it is in the interests of both ABS and the whole bovine genetics industry to have free and fair competition in the market for processing sexed bovine semen.”
The legal proceedings arise around technologies used to process bull semen into products which farmers use to increase the likelihood of gender specific offspring.
The ABS proceedings allege that ST has acquired and maintained a monopoly for its technology through unlawful contractual provisions that lock up potential customers and limit research on alternative technologies. ABS also filed an Inter Partes Review (IPR) petition before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, challenging the validity of one of ST’s patents. The IPR also was filed on July 14.
ABS and ST entered a semen sorting agreement in September 2012 for the processing of raw bovine ejaculate to produce sexed bovine semen. Given ST’s monopoly position, ST imposed onerous provisions in the contract, which ABS contends are unlawful. ABS has notified ST that this agreement will not extend beyond August 2017.
On September 3, ST filed separate proceedings against ABS in Houston, Texas, seeking declarations from the court on the enforceability of certain provisions of the semen sorting agreement and alleging that ABS had fraudulently induced ST to enter into the agreement. ABS strongly disputes ST’s claims and has moved to dismiss these allegations and transfer the matter to Wisconsin.
ABS believes the Wisconsin proceedings will allow it and, potentially, other third parties to enter and compete in the market for processing sexed bovine semen through the launch of competing technologies. For some time, ABS has been developing its own sexed semen technology and has recently completed successful field trials for this technology.