The patent - no. 8,057,825, issued last November - awards Neptune exclusive use of krill extracts in the US as a method for reducing cholesterol, platelet adhesion and plaque formation.
Aker: We expect claims to be revoked
But Aker BioMarine executive vice president for marketing and sales, Matts Johansen, said it should never have been granted.
He added: "Even though the '825 patent is not linked to any lawsuit against Aker BioMarine, we nevertheless chose to ask for reexamination since the patent claims should never have been granted due to relevant prior art not disclosed to the USPTO by the patentee.
“At the end of the reexamination process we expect the claims to be revoked or at the very least limited so as to exclude our krill oil."
Neptune: We are confident in the validity of our patent
Neptune president and chief executive Henri Harland told this publication last year that "allof Neptune's representatives involved in the successful prosecution of the '825 patentcomplied with their duty of candor to the USPTO”.
He added:“After a thorough review of Neptune's patent application, the USPTO deemed Neptune's claims to be novel and non-obvious, and therefore granted the '825 patent to Neptune.
“We are confident that, even if Aker's request for re-examination is granted, the validity of the '825 patent will be confirmed.”
Second patent re-examination
The patent, awarded last October, covers marine phospholipids to which the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA are bound, and was immediately challenged by Aker, which is one of several parties currently being sued by Neptune for allegedly infringing the patent.