Novozymes Wins $18 Million Jury Verdict in Biofuels Enzyme Patent Suit


In previous posts I discussed the patent infringement suit brought by Danish biotech Novozymes against its rival Danisco (recently acquired by DuPont). 

Specifically, Novozymes sued Danisco in May 2010 in the Western District of Wisconsin, alleging infringement of U.S. Patent No. 7,713,723 (‘723 Patent).

The ‘723 Patent is entitled “Alpha amylase mutants with altered properties” and is directed to variants of certain alpha amylases that exhibit altered stability under high temperatures, low pH and other conditions.  The patented variants can be used for starch conversion in ethanol production.

In May 2011 the court denied Danisco’s motion for summary judgment of invalidity, ruling that the defendant did not meet its burden of proving insufficient written description as a matter of law.

Shortly thereafter the court granted partial summary judgment that Danisco’s Spezyme Alpha WB, GC 133, and Clearflow WB enzyme products infringe the ‘723 Patent (Novozymes_Infringement_Order).

The jury recently awarded Novozymes about $18.3 million in damages for the infringement, including $16.7 million for lost profits for certain enzyme products and $1.6 million in reasonable royalties for other products for which Novozymes did not prove lost profits (Novozymes_Verdict). 

The jury further found that Danisco’s infringement of the ‘723 was willful, although it found Novozymes did not prove infringement of Danisco’s whole broth products.

Biofuels patent litigation has been heating up recently.  GreenShift has been the most active, asserting an ethanol processing patent against a host of ethanol producers in eleven cases consolidated in Indiana. 

There has been tremendous growth recently in enzymes, processing technologies, and genetically-engineered microorganisms for biofuels.  Like those microorganisms, I’m sure the green patent battles will continue to multiply.

Eric Lane Avatar

Eric Lane

Eric Lane, the founder and principal of Green Patent Law, is an intellectual property lawyer and registered U.S. patent attorney in New York and is a member of the bar in New York and California. Eric has more than two decades of experience working with wind, solar PV, CSP, biofuels, and geothermal, energy storage technologies, carbon capture and sequestration, medical devices, data communications, mechanical, chemical, internet and software.