Cargill continues patent battle for high oleic canola oils

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

US agribusiness firm Cargill on Friday filed an appeal of a judge's
ruling in December that prevents the company from enforcing patents
for high oleic oils.

The appeal is the latest move in the patent battle between Cargill and Dow AgroSciences, which also produces and sells high oleic canola oil.

In 2003 Cargill had filed a lawsuit in a federal court in Portland, Oregon, claiming that Dow's Natreon canola cooking oil infringes on four patents secured by Cargill for its Clear Valley high oleic canola oils.

According to the company, the court ruled that Dow infringed on two of the four patents, ordering it to pay Cargill $2 million in damages.

But a post-trial motion by Dow alleged that Cargill had not submitted all relevant testing data to the US Patent Office, which resulted in the district court declaring the patents unenforceable in the US.

"The ruling is mystifying,"​ said Cargill president Greg Page. "Cargill submitted all the relevant data derived from the most highly reliable testing technology and procedures available. We had valid reasons for believing the un-submitted data - the results of some less precise tests on frost-damaged or immature seed samples - was inaccurate and unreliable compared with the reams of other testing data we submitted."

"The District Court applied incorrect legal standards and made clearly erroneous findings of fact on both the relevance of the un-submitted data and Cargill's intent in not submitting it,"​ added Ron Dudley, head of Cargill Specialty Canola Oils. "We strongly believe the ruling is contrary to the law and will be overturned."

On its side, Dow AgroSciences claimed that "Cargill was clearly in possession of testing data that demonstrated its oils were neither novel nor otherwise patentable."

As the debate continues, a process expected to last about a year, Cargill said it will continue providing its high stability Clear Valley canola oils to its customers.

High oleic oils, which claim to provide good cooking stability and shelf life while eliminating unhealthy trans fatty acids, have enjoyed good demand since the nation's Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has required all food products to label their trans fat content.

And according to Page, Cargill "remains the leading marketer of these oils and the only proven assured supplier in the market with the largest amount of oil under contract production."

Cargill also said it will continue to provide production contracts to growers to assure supply to its customers, adding that it "remains committed to collaborative alliances such as the one announced earlier this year with Bayer CropScience to accelerate development of canola varieties that produce high stability oil with improved nutritional composition."

"Cargill will continue to advance our oil trait modifications and genetic research into new elite varieties that deliver top performing yields,"​ said Page.

"We are committed to improved bottom lines for both producers and end-use customers who have asked us to help with the health profile of their oils."

Related topics: Regulation, Suppliers

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