Novozymes Wins $18 Million Jury Verdict in Biofuels Enzyme Patent Suit

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In previous posts I discussed the patent infringement suit brought by Danish biotech Novozymes against its rival Danisco (recently acquired by DuPont).

Specifically, Novozymes sued Danisco in May 2010 in the Western District of Wisconsin, alleging infringement of U.S. Patent No. 7,713,723 (’723 Patent).

The ’723 Patent is entitled “Alpha amylase mutants with altered properties” and is directed to variants of certain alpha amylases that exhibit altered stability under high temperatures, low pH and other conditions. The patented variants can be used for starch conversion in ethanol production.

In May 2011 the court denied Danisco’s motion for summary judgment of invalidity, ruling that the defendant did not meet its burden of proving insufficient written description as a matter of law.

Shortly thereafter the court granted partial summary judgment that Danisco’s Spezyme Alpha WB, GC 133, and Clearflow WB enzyme products infringe the ’723 Patent (Novozymes_Infringement_Order).

The jury recently awarded Novozymes about $18.3 million in damages for the infringement, including $16.7 million for lost profits for certain enzyme products and $1.6 million in reasonable royalties for other products for which Novozymes did not prove lost profits (Novozymes_Verdict).

The jury further found that Danisco’s infringement of the ’723 was willful, although it found Novozymes did not prove infringement of Danisco’s whole broth products.

Biofuels patent litigation has been heating up recently. GreenShift has been the most active, asserting an ethanol processing patent against a host of ethanol producers in eleven cases consolidated in Indiana.

There has been tremendous growth recently in enzymes, processing technologies, and genetically-engineered microorganisms for biofuels. Like those microorganisms, I’m sure the green patent battles will continue to multiply.

Eric Lane is a patent attorney at Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps in San Diego and the author of Green Patent Blog. Mr. Lane can be reached at elane@luce.com.

About Author

Walter’s contributions to CleanTechies over the past 4 years have been instrumental in growing the publications social media channels via his ongoing editorial and data driven strategies. He is the founder and managing director of Sunflower Tax, a renewable energy tax and finance consultancy based in San Diego, California. Active in the San Diego clean technology community, participating in events sponsored by CleanTech San Diego, EcoTopics, and Cleantech Open San Diego, Walter has also been a presenter at numerous California Center for Sustainability (CCSE) programs. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law where he teaches a course on energy taxation and policy.

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