Getting a seed to sprout isn't exactly rocket science. Put it on a paper towel, keep it moist and expose it to light.
But Johns Hopkins University claims it has patented the process for sprouting cancer-fighting broccoli seeds for food, and it's charging a Sacramento company, Banner Mountain Sprouts, with infringing those patents.
The Maryland university and Brassica Protection Products, a Maryland company that holds exclusive license rights to the patents, sued Banner Mountain Sprouts in U.S. district court in Sacramento Oct. 13. It's one of five suits they've filed against competing sprout growers.
Banner Mountain Sprouts employs eight people in South Sacramento. The company sells its sprouts packed in rigid plastic boxes to the Raley's supermarket chain and northern California wholesalers.
Brassica Protection Products claims to have the only broccoli sprouts grown to have a consistently high level of a natural antioxidant that …