Håvard Jørgensen: "BioMar Norway truly believes that a general known method to improve smoltification in aquaculture cannot be protected by a patent." Photo: BioMar.

BioMar appeals against SuperSmolt patent ruling

Feed manufacturer BioMar is to appeal a Norwegian court decision that it infringed a patent held by pharma and nutrition company STIM (formerly Europharma) for its SuperSmolt technology that improves consistency of smoltification under constant light.

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In a press release, BioMar said that while the Norwegian judgement does not affect its right to continue to produce and sell its own product portfolio for smoltification in any countries, it has decided to appeal the judgement, which also ruled that the Danish company had violated Norway’s Marketing Act.

BioMar doesn’t agree that it copied a technology protected by valid patents or carried out other wrongdoings by the launch of the previous version of their smolt transfer product Intro Tuning.

‘Known method’

“BioMar Norway truly believes that a general known method to improve smoltification in aquaculture cannot be protected by a patent,” said Håvard Jørgensen, managing director of BioMar Norway and former global R&D director in BioMar Group.

“As an important contributor to innovation in the industry and a company with a strong record of developing patented technology, we fully respect intellectual property rights.

“We however believe that in this case, we have not infringed any valid patent as the fundamental knowledge existed both internally in BioMar and within the industry prior to the filing of the STIM patent in question.

“We have continued to develop an approach to aid the smoltification process and by our innovations contributed with new feeds and technology to improve both cost efficiency and biological impact.”

Patents challenged

BioMar said it and two other leading feed companies have challenged STIM’s patent by filing oppositions at the European Patent Office (EPO). If the oppositions succeed this will automatically lead to revocation of STIM’s patent.

“We will continue to fight for the industry’s right to produce feed to support growth and health during seawater transfer and smoltification and such give farmers the possibility to implement the feeding strategy of their own choice,” said Jørgensen.

Jim-Roger Nordly: Court ruling was a "clear signal".

NOK 16.5m compensation

Oslo District Court ruled last month that BioMar had copied SuperSmolt FeedOnly and sold the copy feed under the name Intro Tuning, and had breached Norway’s Marketing Act in the process. BioMar was ordered to pay NOK 16.5 million in compensation, plus costs.

“Only after the product was a success and STIM had built interest in the market, did BioMar obtain a sample of STIM’s feed, in a way that the company have not been willing to explain the details of in court,” stated the judgement.

“It has, however, come to light that this sample was analysed by BioMar in order to produce an analogous product, allegedly at the request of customers. Through the examination of evidence, the courts find that this course of action is clearly not accepted in the industry and appears clearly blameworthy.”

‘It is not OK to fool others’

The precursor to SuperSmolt FeedOnly was originally developed as a result of new discoveries around calcium sensing receptors in humans. American scientists understood how by stimulating the same receptors in fish, smoltification could be achieved. STIM bought the rights to the original SuperSmolt patent in 2008 and further developed the technology for SuperSmolt FeedOnly, which was launched in 2014.

Aftere the court’s ruling, STIM chief executive Jim-Roger Nordly the decision was “a clear signal that it is not OK to fool others, or straight forward copy the other developer”.