In a rare landmark case on the validity of patents covering biotech innovations, the Supreme People’s Court of China has decided in Novozymes’ favor in a trial against two competitors accused of infringing its enzyme patent.
The patent dispute began in 2011, when Novozymes found evidence that Shandong Longda Bio-Products Co., Ltd. and Jiangsu Boli Bioproducts Co., Ltd. were producing and selling a proprietary Novozymes glucoamylase enzyme for use in the bioenergy and beverage industries violating one of Novozymes’ Chinese patents. In 2012 and 2013, two courts in Tianjin ordered Longda and Boli to stop making and selling the products and pay statutory damages totaling RMB 1.7 million to Novozymes.
Longda and Boli appealed, arguing that the patent was invalid. The case since passed through several levels of lower courts, before it reached the Supreme People’s Court of China, which has now decided that the patent is valid. The Supreme People’s Court’s verdict is final and cannot be appealed.
Commenting on the decision, Novozymes’ General Counsel Mikkel Viltoft said:
“We are pleased with the Court’s decision and wish to commend the Chinese patent and court system for taking an important step towards protecting biotech innovations. This landmark verdict will spur growth and investments in China and encourage local inventions, and it shows that China is serious in its efforts to protect intellectual property rights. Novozymes has been in China for more than 20 years, working closely with local companies and universities to develop technologies that reduce CO2 emissions and the use of harsh chemicals. We firmly believe it is in society’s best interest that intellectual property rights are respected, as this provides the necessary incentive to invest in tomorrow’s innovations.”
Novozymes now expects that the original infringement decision from 2011 will be respected. The company does not anticipate any impact to its customers.
The judgment from the Supreme People’s Court of China does not change Novozymes’ financial outlook for 2017.
Novozymes opened its first office in Beijing in 1995 and today has more than 1,000 employees across 6 sites in China, where the company operates both research & development, production, sales, marketing and other support functions. Novozymes’ main businesses in China are in household care, textile, waste water treatment, food and beverage, agriculture and bioenergy.
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