Martek Biosciences has announced that the European Patent Office (EPO) has granted another patent to Martek for ARA (arachidonic acid) oil made from Martek's microbial source for use in infant formula.
This patent covers infant formula supplemented with ARA from Mortierella alpina microorganisms and methods for producing infant formulas with ARA from Mortierella alpina. Martek's ARA oil, branded life'sARA or ARASCO, is used in infant formulas worldwide.
The grant of this patent resulted from Martek's patent strategy of seeking divisional patents to strengthen its intellectual property position. Martek sought this patent after a 2005 EPO opposition hearing regarding Martek's original EPO ARA patent resulted in claims that were narrower in scope than originally granted. After this hearing, Martek pursued additional protection in a divisional application. The divisional patent that was granted today covers ARA oil that naturally contains EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) in amounts up to 20 percent of the amount of ARA present in the microbial oil. The patent claims were drafted to prevent competitors from designing around the claims by adding EPA from other sources, such as fish oil. The narrower claims from the EPO opposition hearing covered ARA oils without EPA. As a result, the newly granted divisional patent strengthens Martek's intellectual property position by providing commercially significant protection through January 22, 2012.
"Today's patent grant is further evidence of Martek's strong intellectual property position in Europe for infant formulas supplemented with ARA oil," said Steve Dubin, Martek's CEO. "Martek's strategy continues to be to develop multiple layers of patent protection. Today our patent portfolio protecting our products and ideas includes more than 700 granted patents and pending applications worldwide."
Naturally present in human breast milk, ARA is an essential fatty acid important to infant development and growth. When used in combination with DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), clinical studies have demonstrated numerous benefits for infants receiving ARA supplemented formula. Martek is the world leader in providing ARA for use in infant formulas. Martek's ARA is present in more than 85 percent of infant formula sold in the U.S. and is also used in infant formulas sold in more than 60 countries around the world.