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Neptune and Aker engage in public war-of-words over krill patent

By Elaine Watson , 17-Nov-2011

Suggestions by Aker Biomarine that Neptune Technologies and Bioressources misrepresented the novelty of the inventions claimed in its newly-granted krill oil patent are “baseless”, Neptune bosses have insisted.

Neptune and Aker have become embroiled in a public spat over the patent – issued on Tuesday – with Aker immediately filing a request for it to be re-examined and Neptune today issuing a press release rebutting claims made by Aker yesterday in comments to the media.

The patent, no. 8,057,825 , awards Neptune exclusive use of krill extracts in the US as a method for reducing cholesterol, platelet adhesion and plaque formation.

Aker: Neptune was not the first to discover the ability of krill oil’s cardio benefits

But Aker argues it was obtained because Neptune claimed “contrary to the facts, that it was the first to discover the ability of krill oil to lower cholesterol and reduce platelet adhesion and plaque formation”.

It added: “The US patent office did not know, and was not informed by Neptune, of the numerous prior publications describing these same uses and benefits of krill oil. Aker BioMarine has, however, made the patent office aware of them.”

Aker went on to suggest that the ”mere fact that a re-examination is opened is a very strong indication that the USPTO will at least restrict the claims that were originally granted”.

Neptune: We are confident in the validity of our patent

But this is not true, insisted Neptune president and chief executive Henri Harland.

“In fact the US Patent and Trade Office (USPTO) has not yet decided whether to grant Aker's request for re-examination… Accordingly, a reexamination of the '825 patent is not currently ‘opened’.

“In addition, contrary to Aker's assertion, the mere grant of a reexamination request provides no indication, let alone "a very strong indication", that the USPTO will restrict the claims of the issued patent.”

All of Neptune's representatives involved in the successful prosecution of the '825 patent “complied with their duty of candor to the USPTO and after a thorough review of Neptune's patent application, the USPTO deemed Neptune's claims to be novel and non-obvious, and therefore granted the '825 patent to Neptune”, he said.

We are confident that, even if Aker's request for re-examination is granted, the validity of the '825 patent will be confirmed.”

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