The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) has terminated its investigation into alleged patent infringement of certain coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) products and production methods following a complaint by Japan’s Kaneka Corporation.
The announcement, made on November 29, 2012, brings to an end an earlier appeal by Kaneka, and upholds a July 2012 determination by Judge Rogers of the ITC that there is no infringement of Kaneka’s patent.
According to the terms of the complaint, seven suppliers of co-enzyme Q10 allegedly infringed “directly and/or indirectly” Kaneka’s US Patent No. 7,910,340. The Japanese company asked ITC to initiate an investigation into the “unauthorized use of the Kaneka Patent”.
The complaint named seven other CoQ10 suppliers, including Zhejiang Medicine Co. Ltd., ZMC-USA, LLC, Xiamen Kingdomway Group Company, Pacific Rainbow International, Inc, Mitsubishi Gas Chemical Company, Inc., Maypro Industries, Inc., and Shenzou Biology & Technology Co., Ltd.
Patent #7,910,340, issued March 22, 2011 and entitled "Process for Producing Coenzyme Q10" describes the production of ubiquinol (CoQ10) from ubiquinone (QH – the reduced form of CoQ10).
Supplier ZMC welcomed the termination of the investigation and the acceptance of Judge Rogers’ initial determination that ZMC’s process does not infringe Kaneka’s patent, and that Kaneka failed to meet the ITC’s domestic industry requirement because its process is not covered by the ‘340 patent.
Sander Krupski, ZMC-USA National Sales Manager stated: “ZMC and ZMC-USA have consistently maintained our position of non-infringement since the Kaneka patent first issued. We are thankful to our customers who have continued to support ZMC-USA and we look forward to continuing to service our customers who have been impacted by this unnecessary litigation."
Changing market outlook
The coenzyme Q10 market recently witnessed the announced exit of Mitsubishi Gas Chemical Company.
The Japanese company announced it will discontinue coenzyme Q10 production by the end of March 2013. MGC’s Niigata plant currently has a CoQ10 production capacity of 70 MT per year.
According to the company, a feasibility study revealed that Mitsubishi’s CoQ10 business to be loss-making due to excessive supply from overseas manufacturers and increases in production capacity at MGC and other domestic manufacturers.
“Mitsubishi Gas Chemical Company also sees no future prospect for a return to profitability,” it said.