Found in the macula, the central part of the retina in the eye that is responsible for most finevision, zeaxanthin is thought to be an important nutrient for eye health.
According to the settlement, ZeaVision has dismissed its patent infringement action that originally began in February 2003 against, among others, defendantRoche Vitamins, today a DSM Nutritional Products company after the firm's acquisition last year.
ZeaVision sought damages from Roche Vitamins, alleging the firm had infringed its patents in the marketing and sale of zeaxanthin products. Under the settlement, DSM receives a limited, non-exclusive licence to ZeaVision's patents related to zeaxanthin.
"We are pleased that both companies can now focus on the development of zeaxanthin," said Terry Hatfield, president of St.Louis-based ZeaVision.
"We are very excited about the growth potential forthis product and believe that zeaxanthin further strengthens our position as the leading innovative supplier to the nutritional market," added Bob Hartmayer, chief operating officer, DSM Nutritional Products.
ZeaVision launched its zeaxanthin-containing supplements in April 2002. The carotenoid zeaxanthin, found in many fruits and vegetables, is thought to help protect the retina from the damaging effects of sunlight and oxidative stress and free radicals. It has also been associated with reduced symptoms of age-related macular degeneration.
In September last year the St.Louis firm setted a previous patent infringement case with two supplement makers Geres Dengle and Vitamin Sciences. The companies signed consent decrees admitting the validity of ZeaVision's patents and agreed to desist from further infringement, reported ZeaVision at the time.
Dr Dennis L. Gierhart, chairman and chief executive officer of ZeaVision, said: "Our dietary zeaxanthin patents are extremely valuable corporate assets, and this suit reflects our determination to protect their value."