Unilever and Raisio sign patent peace deal

By Alex McNally

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Raisio, Stanol ester, Sterol

An agreement has been reached between Raisio and Unilever to grant
non-exclusive global rights to a number of plant sterol and stanol
patents - a move which will allow both companies to develop their
business and applications and not worry about infringements.

Raisio said today that the two have agreed on partial cross-licensing which will mean the companies can use some of each others patents. The exact number of patents included in the deal has not been made public. The move came about after patent infringement cases were brought between the two companies over the past few years. A Raisio spokesperson said that this deal will bring to an end any outstanding cases, exact details of which have not been revealed. Both Raisio and Unilever develop cholesterol lowering products. Unilever's products - such as Flora Pro-Activ - are mainly based on plant sterols and Raisio's work is stanol based. The Finnish company's main stanol ingredient is Benecol, which recently has been propping the company up in the finance department. The agreement means that both companies can spend fewer resources worrying about patent suits and concentrate on improving their businesses. Chief executive Matti Rihko said: "This agreement strengthens significantly the IPR-portfolio that is the base of the Benecol business. "The cross-licensing agreement with Unilever is an indication of Raisio's high-quality, internationally acknowledged research and development of the Benecol ingredient. "This agreement guarantees that both parties can concentrate on developing their business and applications instead of defending their patent portfolios in opposition proceedings." ​ Raisio licenses out the use of the Benecol ingredient to companies, and in the past few months has made several key licence changes in order to boost profitability after its ingredients arm saw a shortfall of some €4m. In October Raisio reached an agreement with its European and American partners to extend its rights to the cholesterol-lowering Benecol brand in France and the United States. An amendment was signed between McNeil Nutritionals in the States and Cilag GmbH International, which will put Raisio in the driving seat of Benecol and its plant stanol ester. Over the past decade, Raisio has built up the stanol ester based ingredient from scratch. Now it has some 14 licensees and products sold worldwide, and reported ingredient turnover of €44.7 million in 2004. Earlier this month it signed an agreement to see its branded cholesterol lowering ingredient enter the Ecuadorian market in yoghurt.

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