"We must also protect potential applications. Our customers' applications are what keep this company running, and by protecting them, we are also protecting our customers' right to use our products," said the company in a statement.
The product in question is LiquidCap, from the CapColor range, and contained carmine and chlorophyllin - red and green colours. The product is reported to be primarily used in soft drinks and confectionary.
"This product is characterized by the fact that the manufacturing process allows otherwise non-dissolvable colours to become dissolvable and thus usable in food applications," explained Klaus Koehler, section manager in colour research.
"In brief, it makes natural colours easier to handle. The colour doesn't migrate, it is very bright and clear and has a high stability against acid, which means that it is possible to obtain colours in the pink/violet range with carmine. Normally, this would produce orange colour tones," said Klaus.
Chr. Hansen owns a number of patents on natural colours, as well as on starter cultures and lactic acid bacteria, enzymes, wine cultures, and other ingredients.
In May the company launched a new range of natural colours under the name, ColorFruit, covering all shades from yellow to violet, based on just two pigments: natural carotene and anthocyanins.
The company says that the range has been tested in many countries, and that feedback has been positive, both from a functional and a marketing point of view. Indeed, Chr Hansen also claims that the new range offers excellent functional properties.
The company has developed technology that optimises the intermolecular relationships of the colour molecules, and creates colours with superior heat and light stability. The company also claims that the taste is very close to neutral, and does not need masking.
Chr. Hansen is a leading supplier of natural colours for the food and beverage industry - a market with a total size currently estimated at 285m.
The identity of the competing company who challenged the patent is not known.