Nutrinova settles patent case over sweetener

By Alex McNally

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Sucralose, Aspartame, Acesulfame potassium, Nutrinova

Nutrinova has today said that it has settled two lawsuits against
the Ingredient House relating to patent infringements and theft of
trade secrets.

The lawsuits were filed in the US against the company and the company's principals, Graham Hall, William Riha and Janet Timko. The German firm has released very few details on the case. It did say that both "parties have amicably resolved their differences and settled all claims in both lawsuits." ​The Ingredient House has also agreed to stop selling Ace-K in the US for the life of Nutrinova's patent number 5,103,046. The remaining terms of the agreement are confidential, and all parties have agreed not to comment further. Patent infringement cases serve as a powerful reminder that company's will fight, and use the courts, to protect their products. Nutrinova's popular sweetener acesulfame potassium, also known as acesulfame K or Ace-K, claims to be around 200 times sweeter than sugar, and is currently widely used in food and beverage products globally following its approval in about 90 countries worldwide, including the US in1988 and the EU in 1983. Today's announcement follows previous settlements by the firm in the protection of its sweetener. Last year Nutrinova filed a patent infringement suit against DMH, Viachem and the Ingredient House, alleging that the import of the product into the United States was "unauthorized". ​In September of 2007, Viachem agreed to stop selling Ace-K. In November DMH also said it will stop importing and selling the sweetener. Nutrinova holds two patents on the key intermediate of the manufacturing process of Acesulfame K, which are valid in the US until 2008 and 2009 respectively. According to a report published by the Freedonia Group, Acesulfame K, together with aspartame, are forecast to remain the leading sweeteners in diet soft drinks, due to their use in many of the top brands. Prices for the two products are forecast to decline by around 1-2 percent annually over the next few years, a "gentle erosion"​ compared to the high single-digit declines that occurred after their patent protections fell off.

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