The booth was cleared by the bailiff and event security yesterday morning soon after FIE opened its doors for day two of the three-day event, after Neptune won an injunction from a Frankfurt court for what is believed to be infringement of EU novel foods regulations.
However NutraIngredients.com has been unable to obtain a copy of the injunction, so the exact nature of the infringement is unknown, but Aker confirmed the injunction contained references to the illegal sale of products containing Aker’s Superba krill oils within Germany.
Aker senior vice president, Roar Hernes, said its lawyers had lodged a challenge to the injunction this morning, but was uncertain when that challenge might be heard. The company continued to man its booth albeit without products and promotional materials.
The dispute centres around the novel foods status of Aker’s krill ingredients. Neptune earned its novel foods stripes in October and Aker has applied for novel foods authorisation under substantial equivalence rules that permit similar products to share authorisations, but that application is pending with EU authorities.
The krilling fields
Until Aker wins novel foods approval it cannot sell its ingredients within the European Union’s 27-member states, but it can sell to non-EU countries such as Switzerland, Russia and Norway.
Hernes said Aker could not control how products were marketed and sold after it supplied ingredients to food supplement manufacturers and distributors in non-EU countries. He defended the company’s marketing methods.
“We have been totally honest with customers,” he said. “We have told them we do not have novel foods approval but are hoping it will arrive by the end of 2009, although it is difficult to predict EU regulatory processes. We have never claimed to have novel foods approval.”
The injunction follows a US action Neptune launched against Aker last week for process patent infringement – an action Aker said it was “ready to fight in the courts”.
Neptune CEO and president, Henri Harland, said German law prevented his company from commenting on the injunction.
FIE event director, Greg Cherry, said it was the first time he could recall such a situation, but would not comment on the raid, saying FIE had little choice but to comply with the injunction.
He said all exhibitors signed an agreement stating they would not exhibit counterfeit goods or goods that infringed on intellectual property rights.