American River Nutrition sues BGG, alleging patent infringement on Vitamin E product

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

American River Nutrition says its founder Barry Tan PhD pioneered the extraction of a Vitamin E ingredient from the annatto plant. Photo: American River Nutrition
American River Nutrition says its founder Barry Tan PhD pioneered the extraction of a Vitamin E ingredient from the annatto plant. Photo: American River Nutrition
Vitamin E ingredient developer American River Nutrition has filed a patent infringement suit against BGG over its tocotrienol product.

American River Nutrition, under its founder Barry Tan, PhD, pioneered and patented an extraction method for deriving a tocopherol free Vitamin E product from the South American Annatto plant (Bixa orellana​). The resulting ingredient, branded as DeltaGold, is high in delta- and gamma-tocotrienol isomers, which have been found to be the most potent of the eight different isomers of the vitamin. 

According to the company, which is based in Hadley, MA, Tan made the discovery of the plant’s unique isomer profile and led a program of analytical work, pilot trials, and scale-ups that led to the granting of a manufacturing patent (US 6,350,453​).

ARN’s suit, which was filed in US Federal Court in the Central District of California, alleges that BGG (also known as Beijing Ginkgo Group) has infringed upon the patent with its TheraPrimE Annatto Tocotrienols 70 ingredient product.  BGG’s headquarters is in Beijing; its North American operation is based in Irvine, CA.

“We were compelled to file the lawsuit not only to protect our significant investments in mobilizing a raw material supply chain and optimizing manufacturing capabilities, but also to conserve our considerable efforts and contributions towards pre-clinical and clinical research,” ​Tan said. “This also protects the interests of our customers.”

"Not only is this important to me, having spent decades on research and development of tocotrienols, taking action against patent infringement should be important to every member of the industry that invests in IP development,”​ Tan added.

In the lawsuit, filed December 13, 2018, ARN is seeking injunctive relief, as well as monetary damages resulting from BGG’s alleged infringement. ARN says next steps may well include serving injunctions against sellers of products containing TheraPrimE Annatto Tocotrienols 70.

ARN says DeltaGold is the only annatto tocotrienol that is GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe), and the only tocotrienol ingredient manufactured in the United States.

In response to the suit, BGG managing director Charlie Bowman issued this statement:

“BGG is confident that we have not infringed on any patent and will vigorously contest American River’s unfounded allegations. We take exception to any attempts to restrict our ability to expand the market and provide customers with the superior benefits of TheraPrimE annatto tocotrienols.”

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