Mars to add more patents to Natraceutical case

By Clarisse Douaud

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Polyphenol antioxidant, Flavonoid, Antioxidant

Mars has announced it is adding more patents to its suit against
Natraceutical so as to both strengthen its case and protect cocoa
flavanol technology.

In April the food giant filed a lawsuit against Natraceutical for infringing the patents on polyphenol enriched cocoa extracts it has commercialized under the Cocoapro trademark. While the suit initially involved two patents, Mars now says it intends to add further patents to the scope of the case against the Spanish ingredient maker's US sale of its own CocaonOX products. The case demonstrates the threat that even smaller companies can have on the intellectual property and business interests of large food firms. Mars claims to have the world's leading cocoa flavanol technology, and related intellectual property. It has developed ways to measure and characterize polyphenol content in foods, as well as post-harvesting and processing technologies to help maximize the antioxidants available in a variety of formats. According to Mars, its various complaints will be addressed in one single trial, as opposed to approaching it in a piecemeal fashion. In August, Natraceutical Group proclaimed what it called its first victory in defending the case, when Mars withdrew its request for a preliminary injunction. This means Natraceutical can continue unrestricted marketing of CocaoOX products in the US throughout legal proceedings. Which ever way the gavel falls, both companies are at risk of losing sales. One third of Natraceutical's entire ingredients sales are to the US, at the same time as Mars has invested heavily in the health benefits of polyphenols, which it claims to have researched for over 15 years. The firm has taken this research mainstream with functional chocolate brands including Dove and CocoaVia, while Nutraceutical has developed healthy cocoa derivatives as part of its CocoanOX line. Mars alleges this line infringes on US patents 6,790,966 ("Cocoa extracts containing solvent-derived cocoa polyphenols from defatted cocoa beans")​ and 6,312,753 ("Cocoa components, edible products having enriched polyphenol content, methods of making same and medical uses"​). Natraceuticals maintains this is not the case, but says the details of this will be brought to light in the legal proceedings. "There are a lot of technical issues that should be discussed during the process,"​ Natraceutical CEO Jose Vicente Pons Andreu recently told NutraIngredients-USA.com. He said the technologies are different and that the only thing the products have in common is that are derived from cocoa. Mars expects that the Court in late September will set a trial date for the case.

Related topics: Botanicals

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