VP business development for LycoRed North America Doug Lynch was speaking to NutraIngredients-USA after his firm filed a lawsuit in New Jersey accusing E.I.D. Parry Ltd. and Valensa International of patent infringement.
Valensa product has a much larger particle size, but still infringes patent, claims LycoRed
A thorough investigation of Valensa’s product (produced in India by Parry) had identified that it “is not exactly the same as Lyc-O-mato [LycoRed’s flagship natural tomato lycopene complex], as it doesn’t have all the same components as it has a much larger particle size”, said Lynch.
“However, it has many similar attributes, and we are quite convinced it infringes our patents. We are confident we can prove that in court.”
He added: “The problem is that they are also marketing their product as having benefits that we know are uniquely associated with Lyc-o-mato, which has an optimal particle size that is tied in to the clinical substantiation.
“They are linking the benefits of their product to work that has been done on our product - but they are not the same. We will be seeking compensation, but more importantly we want their product removed from the market.”
Valensa: Surprised by legal action
Valensa president Dr Rudi Moerck said he was surprised by the lawsuit, adding: “We do not believe that an infringement is taking place at Parry’s site in India, but I am not a spokesman for Parry. The first I heard about it was via a phone call the day before the action was filed.
“We have received a copy of the complaint and we are going through it carefully, but it is not very specific. However I can assure you that people at Parry are well aware of the LycoRed patents. And as far as absorption is concerned, particle size is not the only factor determining bioavailability.”
He added: “We will try to contact LycoRed to talk about this as I have personally spent a long time in this industry and believe that it is better to try to work things out before taking legal action."
Injunction and damages
In the complaint, filed on March 19 in the US District Court, District of New Jersey, LycoRed accused the defendants of infringing three patents: 6,515,018; 5,837,311; and 5,965,183, which cover lycopene-containing compositions, production processes and applications.
LycoRed is asking the court to grant an injunction to stop sales of, and to recall, all products it alleges infringe the above patents and to award damages in compensation.
‘Parry has unlawfully leveraged our proprietary science’
Morris Zelkha, president and chief executive of LycoRed, said: “Parry Nutraceuticals unlawfully leveraged our proprietary science to produce and market its tomato lycopene complex.
“Parry, however, has not offered any scientific research to demonstrate that its lycopene products have the same clinical attributes as Lyc-O-Mato [which LycoRed says provides a full complement of carotenoids and other organically occurring antioxidants].”
Lyc-O-Mato has a unique patented particle size of less than five microns and is supported by clinical studies demonstrating high bioavailability and absorption, added the firm, which is based in Beer Sheva, Israel.
What are the patents at issue?
US patent #6,515,018 – issued in 2003 – covers a mixture containing lycopene and Vitamin E and its use in the prevention of LDL oxidation.
US patent #5,837,311 - issued in 1998 – is a process patent covering the industrial processing of tomatoes.
US patent #5,965,183 – issued in 1999 - covers a process for preparing stable lycopene concentrate in an essentially non-dissolving liquid and its uses.
Parry and Valensa partnership
Valensa, through a partnership with Parry Nutraceuticals, supplies a natural tomato lycopene to the US market which it claims “not only includes lycopene but also all the naturally occurring phytonutrients found in tomatoes including Phytoene, Phytofluene, Tocopherols and Beta-carotene and eliminates the sugar and water”.
Based in Chennai, India, Parry Nutraceuticals is a division of E.I.D. Parry (I) Ltd. and a part of the Murugappa group.