Industries

Agricultural Sciences & Technology

Why Cooley

Cooley has a full-service global platform comprised of lawyers with decades of experience in the agricultural biotechnology, microbial engineering, microbiome, food, animal and plant science industries, delivering an unparalleled combination of innovative legal guidance, deep industry knowledge and practical understanding of our clients’ needs. Our multidisciplinary approach allows for seamless collaboration between lawyers across related practice areas, including intellectual property, litigation, FDA/regulatory, licensing, strategic transactions and collaboration deals and venture financing. We have unparalleled access to one of the largest and most influential networks of leading venture capitalists, financial institutions and other strategic partners who can help our clients get to the next level. Our clients include:

  • leading agricultural companies, both established and startup, utilizing next generation genomic engineering techniques (CRISPR, base editing, RNAi silencing, TALENS, etc.) to bring new traits and improved germplasm to market;
  • market leaders in developing agronomic, horticultural and arboricultural transgenic crops;
  • companies providing improved agronomic practices;
  • clients utilizing sophisticated genetic tools and algorithms to push the boundaries of plant breeding;
  • high-tech precision agricultural clients engaged in utilizing the most advanced technology to monitor crops and increase yield (e.g. predictive crop modeling, remote sensing, and unmanned aerial vehicle data gathering);
  • companies at the forefront of developing plant enhancing microbial compositions that can serve as alternatives to traditional synthetic compounds in agricultural applications;
  • industry pioneers in the microbiome revolution, with technology that spans application from food compositions to human health;
  • innovative biofuel companies, including those utilizing transgenic yeast or algae;
  • pioneering industrial microbiology companies making next generation products via microbial engineering;
  • cutting-edge companies developing new plant extracts, extraction processes, extract formulations and their uses in treating disease and improving nutrition;
  • companies developing new and improved agrochemical formulations;
  • leading innovators in traditional plant breeding; and
  • investors backing game-changing technologies in the natural foods sector.

Representative Technologies and Products

  • New varieties of major row crops, including corn, soy, wheat and potatoes
  • Diverse fruits and vegetables
  • Horticultural technologies, including flower breeding and floriculture
  • Traditional plant breeding technology
  • Next generation plant breeding innovation
  • Gene edited plants
  • Agricultural biologicals
  • Animal husbandry
  • Microbial treatments
  • Microbiome modulation
  • Nitrogen fixation technology
  • Biofuels
  • Synthetic biology
  • Recombinant microbes
  • Insect pheromone technology
  • Hemp
  • Medical cannabis
  • Natural crop protectants and bioprospecting
  • Natural/organic drug, food and beverage extracts and compositions
  • Alternative proteins
  • Food compositions
  • High-tech precision agriculture
  • Big data analytics
  • Saas/cloud services

Capabilities

Corporate

Cooley has played an instrumental role in the growth of leading companies across industries. We’re counsel to agricultural startup companies involved in some of the largest venture backed agricultural sector fundraising rounds of the past several years. Our market-leading corporate partnering and licensing practice group has experience leading thousands of transactions across various technologies and stages of product development. We are the #1 most active law firm for VC financings and VC-backed companies in the US and globally, the most active law firm for technology and life sciences IPOs for the past decade and a top law firm for M&A deals with 1,000+ transactions in the past 5 years. In an environment filled with an increasing number of evolving laws and regulations, our team has the depth of experience necessary to help our clients navigate the ever changing rules of the agtech marketplace.

Intellectual Property

With 150+ intellectual property lawyers across the US and UK, Cooley has one of the largest dedicated IP practice groups of any AmLaw 50 law firm. As a fully integrated, full-service practice, we provide prosecution and counseling services that allow our clients to gain the most value from their IP and represent our clients in complex infringement suits in which core products and brands are at stake. Our global trademark team has experience representing clients’ trademark, copyright and advertising interests in virtually every jurisdiction in the world. Notably, Cooley has one of the largest life sciences patent teams in the US with a dedicated agricultural sciences group comprised of a dozen patent lawyers and professionals with PhDs and technical expertise across all of the pertinent areas in the plant science, food science, agrochemical and agbiotech fields. Cooley also has significant experience litigating IP cases involving agricultural technology, including proprietary vegetable varieties and genomic engineering tools utilized to produce gene-edited crops. Our patent team has performed on 1,000+ investor-side and company-side IP due diligence reviews in high-value financings, M&A deals, capital market offerings and other transactions.

Litigation

Cooley’s litigation team is comprised of lawyers with decades of first-chair trial experience, 50+ former judicial clerks, and litigation support professionals with deep discovery and case management experience. We represent leading companies and executives in a wide array of business disputes, including bet-the-company cases. Our team has experience litigating cases involving agricultural technology, including proprietary vegetable varieties and genomic engineering tools utilized to produce gene-edited crops. With our culture of collaboration and efficiency – and our willingness to take tough cases to trial – we have experience litigating in a wide variety of venues, including federal and state courts nationwide, a broad spectrum of administrative tribunals and international arbitral forums and English courts. And while our team is led by skilled trial lawyers, we appreciate that litigation, and ultimately trial, is not always the best answer. To this end, we offer a broad range of pre-litigation counseling and alternative dispute resolution capability and experience.

Regulatory

Cooley’s lawyers counsel US and foreign companies on compliance with US laws and regulations that govern the cross-border movement of goods, services and technology and affect the way US companies conduct business overseas. We regularly represent companies in regulatory and legislative matters before federal and state agencies and provide regulatory compliance advice on international, federal, state and local employment and labor laws, including affirmative action, discrimination, wage and hour, health and safety, unions and collective bargaining, compensation and benefits. Our government analytics practice provides clients with federal public policy insights and regulatory strategies to make informed business decisions. In addition, Cooley’s dedicated FDA team counsels clients on pre-approval and commercial strategies and compliance matters. We also have a team of lawyers with significant EU regulatory experience to advise on international matters.

Representative Matters

  • Advised AgroSpheres on its $22 million Series B financing and led intellectual property due diligence in connection with the round.
  • Advised ecofriendly footwear company Allbirds on global trademark and brand protection matters, and in all financing activity since inception, including its 2020 $100 million Series E financing
  • Advised AppHarvest, a developer and operator of large-scale, high-tech controlled environment indoor farms, on its agreement to combine with Novus Capital, a publicly traded special purpose acquisition company (SPAC)
  • Advised BrightFarms, a leading next-generation indoor farming company supplying US grocery retailers with packaged salad greens, on its $100 million Series E financing
  • Advised eFishery, an Indonesian agtech startup, on its Series D financing raising $200 million, bringing its valuation to $1.4 billion. eFishery aims to build an aquaculture ecosystem in Indonesia that is not only profitable but also sustainable to the farmers and to all stakeholders
  • Represented Evolutionary Genomics in its partnership with Dole Food Company to develop and commercialize banana plant varieties resistant to a fungus that threatens to devastate the banana industry
  • Favorably resolved a multi-year competitor patent battle for Gevo, a biofuels pioneer, leveraging a string of victories, including at the US Supreme Court, to reach a favorable cross-license agreement
  • Represent Limagrain and its affiliates such as Vilmorin, Vilmorin North America, HM.Clause, and AgReliant Genetics in matters of patent procurement, intellectual property strategy and enforcement; represented Vilmorin North America in patent litigation concerning a proprietary vegetable variety
  • Represent Native Microbials, a pioneer in the emerging science of endomicrobial ecology for raising healthier farm animals and livestock, in ongoing patent counseling and prosecution work to build its global patent portfolio; advised the company on its 2020 $46 million Series B financing
  • Serve as primary IP counsel to Nobell Foods since its founding, helping the company protect its innovative contributions aimed at making the world’s food
    systems more humane and sustainable. Nobell Foods is utilizing the power of plants to reimagine the world’s food supply and produce delicious cheese from plant-derived dairy proteins. The company completed a $75 million Series B round in 2021 to help bring its vision to the world
  • Represent Pivot Bio since its inception and work closely with the company on corporate and financing activity, commercial transactions and the development and implementation of a market leading IP portfolio; recently advised the company on its $430 million Series D financing
  • Handle patent prosecution and counseling for Provivi, an emerging agricultural company with a vision to change the way the world controls insect pests, and recently advised the company on its 2020 $45.5 million Series C-2 financing
  • Advised Vital Farms, a certified B Corporation and Delaware public benefit corporation that offers a range of ethically produced pasture-raised food products nationwide, on its $235.4 million initial public offering