Settlement on curcumin patent infringement just tip of the iceberg, Sabinsa says

By Hank Schultz contact

- Last updated on GMT

Sabinsa is vertically integrated with its supply in India of turmeric, the raw ingredient for curcumin.
Sabinsa is vertically integrated with its supply in India of turmeric, the raw ingredient for curcumin.

Related tags: Curcumin c3 complex, Patent application, Patent, Shaheen majeed

Botanical ingredients supplier Sabinsa Corporation prides itself on its long list of patents and the history of innovation that represents. The company is making headway in defending that legacy in the curcumin sector with the announcement of the settlement of a suit against an Indian firm that Sabinsa claimed was infringing on its US patent on its Curcumin C3 Complex ingredient.

A proposed settlement of the suit against Indian firm Prakruti Products Private Limited was submitted to the United States District Court in New Jersey on February 18, 2015. The lawsuit, filed in the US District Court, New Jersey on July 30, 2014, alleged Prakruti was selling products that infringed upon Sabinsa’s Curcumin C3 Complex US Patent 5,861,415, which protects compositions, methods of use, and methods of extraction of a nutritional supplement in the US. 

The suit was one of four that Sabinsa filed against four suppliers that were manufacturing ingredients and selling them into the US market that violated the patent, said Sabinsa marketing director Shaheen Majeed. The other three suits are still ongoing.

Unwinding the supply web

patent_image
"We decided it was time to take on these Indian suppliers," said Shaheen Majeed, Marketing Director, Sabinsa

The launch of that patent defense effort is noteworthy in several respects, Majeed told NutraIngredients-USA. For one thing, the cases seek to unwind the web of global supply and how patents apply to ingredients that have complicated histories. Legal experts had given Sabinsa little hope of prevailing in taking on—under the aegis of US patent law—companies doing business in other countries.

“We were told even by our own lawyers that it would be a hell of a fight to go after foreign suppliers. But we have been looking at this for the last five years. We have been collecting data and gathering a lot of documentation from all of these infringers. We decided it was time to take on these Indian suppliers,”​ Majeed told us.

Sabinsa, which is based in New Jersey with operations in Utah and in India, has patents related to Curcumin both in the United States and Europe.  In the United States, Sabinsa continues to litigate the willful infringement of the ‘415’ patent by HerbaKraft, Inc., NutriBioLink LLC, and Olive Lifesciences Private Limited.  In Germany, Sabinsa continues to litigate a European Curcumin patent infringed by Olive Lifesciences.

Marketers and manufacturers are next up

Another aspect of the effort is that these suits against suppliers are only the tip of the iceberg, Majeed said. Over the years the company had heard from potential customers of their ingredient who were buying infringing versions that the overseas origin of those ingredients meant that the US patent (or in the case of the EU, the European patent) didn’t apply.

curcumin
According to a report published in the American Botanical Council’s HerbalGram, sales of herbal dietary supplements with turmeric/curcumin as the primary ingredient grew by 26.2% in 2013 to take the top spot in the natural channel.

“We just finally decided to do something about our standard 95% curcumin ingredient that a lot of people were copying," ​said Majeed. "These are just the first four companies we decided to go after. The next step is to go after manufacturing and marketing companies. There are marketing companies that think they are not infringing because they are taking on supply from a foreign company."

And Majeed said the patent defense effort is a reassurance to its customers that they can rely on the market differentiation that Sabinsa’s patents on C3 provide.

Majeed said that other companies can market curcumin ingredients in the US and the EU.  But if they intend to adhere to patent law they may not sell copy cat versions of Sabinsa’s unique composition ratio, nor market it for its antioxidant use, nor use the Ethyl Acetate extraction method developed by Sabinsa and outlined in Sabinsa’s patent. 

Related topics: Suppliers, Botanicals

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2 comments

Ever wonder, Mr Shultz

Posted by Barry thomson,

What happens to the byproduct of nutritional extraction?
Is it still available as "food"

Report abuse

Indonesian Curcumin

Posted by PT.Nabateans Aromatic,

We can supply you curcuma longa but we prefer to produce it to become curcumin and sell to you.
Curcuma Longa is abundantly available in Indonesia

Report abuse

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