The fish feed company is facing a fine equivalent to about US$2.4m (€2.1m) for patent infringement related to smoltification technology.
The court ruled that BioMar must compensate STIM, formerly Europharma, as much as 10 million kroner for copying the Scottish aquaculture company’s SuperSmolt FeedOnly technology and selling it under the name, Intro Tuning.
BioMar Norway has also been ordered to pay STIM an additional 6.5 million kroner in compensation for what the court termed its engagement in in misleading marketing practices and breaching the business code of conduct.
“Not until 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 has not been willing to explain the details of in court,” according to the Oslo District Court ruling, and as reported by FishFarmingExpert. “It has, however, come to light that this sample was analyzed 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.”
'Smoltification in aquaculture cannot be protected by a patent'
BioMar Norway said it truly believes that a general known method to improve smoltification in aquaculture cannot be protected by a patent.
"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, [through] our innovations, contributed with new feeds and technology to improve both cost efficiency and biological impact,” said Håvard Jørgensen, MD BioMar Norway and former global R&D director in BioMar Group.
BioMar said it and two other leading feed companies have challenged STIM’s patent by filing oppositions at the European Patent office (EPO). If said that if the oppositions succeed, there will automatically be a revocation of STIM’s patent also in Norway.
“We will continue to fight for the industry’s right to produce feed to support the 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.
Fish growth and survival
STIM said its SuperSmolt FeedOnly allows the fish to smoltify under constant light and without the threat of de-smoltification. The program is said to enable fish to develop ideal seawater tolerance and obtain better growth and survival rates.
The idea behind SuperSmolt was developed by American scientists. STIM bought the rights to the original SuperSmolt patent in 2008. The company further developed the technology and launched SuperSmolt FeedOnly in 2014.
Previous patent dispute
Last year, STIM and MariCal, the owners of the patent rights for the smoltification technology, reached a legal settlement with Cooke Aquaculture over the company's alleged use of SuperSmolt.
The parties kept the particulars of the settlement confidential.
MariCal is a bio-technology company operating in animal health and nutrition and was behind the development of the original SuperSmolt concept. STIM bought the rights to the technology in 2008 and preceded to develop SuperSmolt Feed Only, launched in 2014.