A jury in the US District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin found Danisco liable for infringing Novozymes' US patent on alpha-amylases for use in the starch and biofuel industries.
The jury also found Danisco's infringement to be willful. Novozymes filed the lawsuit against Danisco in May 2010.
But the jury’s decision is not the final decree, which is subject to the judge's affirmation and possible appeals.
When asked if the Danish group could confirm the likely date for the final verdict, Johan Melchior, a spokesperson for Novozymes said: “To be honest, we don’t know. These processes can take a considerable amount of time.”
In an emailed statement to FoodNavigator.com Mikkel Viltoft, general counsel in Novozymes, said “We are pleased that the jury has decided in our favor and we will now wait for the judge’s final decision in this matter. Novozymes will continue to protect its investment in R&D and defend its intellectual property rights.
We believe it is in everybody’s interest that intellectual property rights are respected, as this is the only way we can continue to provide innovation to the benefit of our customers, consumers and society as a whole.”
Novozymes makes enzymes at a plant in Franklinton, North Carolina.The infringing products have primarily been used to produce ethanol from corn starch in the US.
This is not the first time the two enzyme companies have battled it out over patent violation.
In April 2007, they settled a dispute, again relating to alpha-amylase, which resulted in Novozymes receiving over $15m from Danisco. A court in Delaware, US, found that Danisco's US subsidiary Genecor had infringed on a Novozymes patent for one of its bioethanol enzymes.
Novozymes was granted a patent for the enzyme in 2005. The company said it had contacted Danisco warning that the patent was due to be issued, and advising the firm to stop manufacturing and selling its Spezyme Ethyl product, an alpha amylase enzyme used in ethanol production.
Danisco voluntarily withdrew its product from the market only after a first patent infringement ruling in August 2006.