BGG prevails in patent suit filed by vitamin E competitor American River Nutrition

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

The seeds of the annatto plant (Bixa orellana) are one of the sources of tocotrienols -- the most bioactive form of vitamin E. ©Getty Images - in4mal
The seeds of the annatto plant (Bixa orellana) are one of the sources of tocotrienols -- the most bioactive form of vitamin E. ©Getty Images - in4mal

Related tags Vitamin e supplements Vitamin e annatto Patent Tocotrienol Patent infringement

Chinese ingredient supplier BGG World has announced a favorable outcome in a patent infringement lawsuit filed by an American vitamin E competitor.

More recently BGG has gained prominence as a supplier of astaxanthin, which it produces in a closed tube algae farm in Yunnan Province in southwestern China.  But prior to entering that market BGG was supplying a number of other ingredients.  (The company first did business as Beijing Ginkgo Group.)

BGG supplies branded extracts of apple polyphenols, bilberries, licorice root and others.  Ginkgo is no longer listed among the company’s key products.

BGG, which is based in Beijing but also has offices in Irvine, CA and Lugano, Switzerland, also supplies a branded ingredient known as TheraPrimeE which is a tocotrienol form of vitamin E that the company says is sourced from palm, rice and annatto.

Competing forms of tocotrienol-rich vitamin E

Competitor American River Nutrition lays claim to being the initial developer of the annatto source of tocotrienols.  Annatto (Bixa orellana)​ is a shrub native to Central and South America which produces seeds rich in red pigment.

Developed by American River founder Barry Tan, PhD, the process extracts an ingredient high in delta- and gamma-tocotrienol isomers, which have been found to the most potent of the eight different isomers of the vitamin.   The Hadley, MA-based company brands the ingredient as DeltaGold, and says it is the only American-made form of tocotrienol-rich vitamin E. The company secured a manufacturing patent on Tan’s work (US 6,350,453).

American River sued BGG over patent infringement in 2019​, seeking both injunctive and monetary relief.  BGG issued a statement at the time saying that it did not believe it was infringing on the patent, and a recent ruling has vindicated that point of view.

Summary judgement granted

According to BGG, the United States District Court for the Central District of California, which presided over the case, issued a final decision recently, granting BGG’s motion for a summary judgment of non-infringement.  BGG said all claims and counterclaims were dismissed in the case.

“We were extremely confident in our position that BGG did not infringe ARN’s patent throughout this three-year litigation, so we were delighted that BGG’s position was finally vindicated through this judgment in its favor,” ​ said attorney Gary Hnath of Mayer Brown, LLP,  who represented BGG in the case.

ARN did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication of this article.

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