The ruling, first reported by Dutch site Nutritioninsight, concerns patents that formed the basis of an action against Rimfrost that was pursed by Aker in US district court. Aker had previously pursued a case before the International Trade Commission, but halted that action earlier this year. The reason the company gave at that time was that as the parent company of Rimfrost, Olympic Seafood AS, was in bankruptcy court proceedings at the time, no importation of what Aker alleged to be infringing krill products was occurring, and halting importation is the purpose of a suit before the ITC. The suit in US district court continues, however.
Rimfrost: Patents invalid
“We are gratified that the US Patent Office has instituted Inter Partes Review proceedings of the Aker patents,” Rimfrost owner Stig Remøy was quoted in the Dutch publication. “It confirms Rimfrost’s longstanding belief that the Aker patents are not valid and should have never been issued in the first place.”
“I feel this is great news for us, we are optimistic about the future. The US market is a very important market for krill oil. 80 percent of the world market is in the US, so of course, it’s very important for us,” he was quoted as saying.
Aker: Periodic reviews part of owning a patent portfolio
Aker, for its part, issued the following statement concerning the patent ruling:
“Rimfrost's press release refers to a decision by the US Patent & Trademark Office to initiate review of two of Aker BioMarine's patents. Aker BioMarine owns 100+ patents worldwide and oppositions and reviews are a normal part of owning and managing a patent portfolio.
“In most countries, patent oppositions and reviews are automatically instituted if requested, but in the United States there is a preliminary patent office assessment based on the opponent’s arguments. This only constitutes the initiation of the review. An actual conclusion of these four patent reviews will normally take just over a year,” the company said.
Rimfrost recapitalized as Aker, Neptune conclude deal
According to sources in the fishing industry, Rimfrost has been recapitalized via a funding package put together by Remøy that includes his own funds and those of local investors. The company has announced plans to build a new vessel to replace the one lost in the bankruptcy proceeding.
The USPTO ruling comes in the wake of the big news in the krill sector, that being that Aker will take over the bulk krill oil business from former arch rival Neptune Technologies and Bioressources. Neptune will still process krill oil at its plant in Sherbrooke, Ontario to the specifications of its NKO ingredient, but the plan was to wind that down over the period of several months as inventories are depleted. There is no immediate word as to what effect possible dislocations due to the widespread flooding in Houston (where Aker’s plant is located) might have on that timeline.