Martek Biosciences Corporation (Nasdaq: MATK) announced today that a panel of judges on the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has ruled in Martek's favor in appeal proceedings related to a patent infringement lawsuit between Martek and Lonza, Ltd., Nutrinova Inc. and Nutrinova Nutrition Specialties & Food Ingredients GmbH (collectively "Lonza"). The appeals involve Lonza's U.S. sale and use of DHA in functional foods and dietary supplements and do not involve Martek's core infant formula patents. Lonza has the right to request a re-hearing.
These rulings represent an across-the-board victory for Martek as the Federal Circuit ruled in Martek's favor on all four of the patents in question. While two of the patents at issue have now expired, two others have expiration dates in August 2011 and December 2014, respectively. More specifically, the Federal Circuit 1) upheld a Martek patent directed to certain fermentation methods used to produce fatty acids such as DHA and 2) reversed the trial court's interpretation of certain claim language directed to methods of increasing the concentration of microbial omega-3 fatty acids such as DHA in an animal. While the lower court construed the term 'animal' to exclude humans, the Federal Circuit concluded that the term 'animal' does include humans and remanded the patent to the trial court for further proceedings consistent with this interpretation. This Federal Circuit decision is further evidence of the strength of the Martek patents at issue, which include claims covering food and dietary supplement applications for human consumption. Martek is the only manufacturer and supplier of algal DHA to the U.S. food and dietary supplements industry and is a leading worldwide supplier with its flagship brand, life'sDHA(TM).
"Martek's policy is to vigorously defend its patent portfolio and these rulings demonstrate the value of this approach," said Steve Dubin, CEO of Martek Biosciences. "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."