The Tribunal de Grande Instance of Paris found in favour of CoQ10 player Xiamen Kingdomway and its French and Chinese distributors: Quimdis, Acerchem International Basic Nutrition and Shanghai Freemen Lifescience.
The court found a lack of novelty in the patents Kaneka said were being breached dating back to 2010. The patents themselves related to manufacturing oxidised coenzyme Q10 and date back to 2001. They were granted in Europe 2008.
Kaneka said it had no comment on the ruling.
The Japanese CoQ10 giant had sought access to Kingdomway’s manufacturing processes to determine if they were in breach of its patents or not.
But the court found there were no grounds for mimickry as the processes contained in the patent were not in themselves novel.
Jean-Francois Quarre, Quimdis managing director said: “The result of this judicial episode cleared Kingdomway Company of any infringement suspicions of the oxidised coenzyme Q10 patent owned by Kaneka Company and declared null the claims 31, 54 and 55 of the Kaneka patent so it can no longer claim to be the inventor of a new process of creation of the oxidized coenzyme Q10.”
CoQ10 has properties similar to vitamins, but since it is naturally synthesised in the body it is not classed as such. With chemical structure 2,3-dimethoxy-5-methyl-6-decaprenyl-1,4-benzoquinone, it is also known as ubiquinone because of its 'ubiquitous' distribution throughout the human body.
The coenzyme is concentrated in the mitochondria - the 'power plants' of the cell - and plays a role in the production of chemical energy by participating in the production of adenosince triphosphate (ATP), the body's so-called 'energy currency'.
Kaneka had previously sued Kingdomway in the US and ZMC in Germany for similar patent infringement reasons. It lost both actions.
CoQ10’s most common usage is in conjunction with statin drugs prescribed to people with heart problems and it is a popular stand-alone food supplement.
Kingdomway recently had its CoQ10 supply certified under the US Pharmacopeial (USP) Convention and it is estimated 90% of the total supply is now certified in this way.