Norwegian Supreme Court rules against BioMar in smolt feed case

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/adventtr
© GettyImages/adventtr

Related tags BioMar patent Norway

The Norwegian Supreme Court has found in favor of fish health group, STIM, in its long-standing IP battle with BioMar in relation to a smolt-feed patent.

Reacting, Håvard Yngve Jørgensen, MD BioMar Norway, said: “We are disappointed with the decision by Norway's Supreme Court and are taking note of it.”

STIM had alleged that BioMar’s Intro Tuning violated the patent protection of its product, SuperSmolt FeedOnly.

The Supreme Court Appeals Selection Committee rejected an appeal from BioMar against an earlier ruling​ from the Oslo-based Borgarting Court of Appeal ordering the fish feed manufacturer to pay STIM over NOK 36m (around US$3.6m) as a penalty for infringing its patent. That court also said BioMar violated good business practices.

The question of Biomar breaching the business code of conduct was an important count in the now binding sentence of Borgarting Court of Appeal, according to STIM. The ruling states that Biomar developed its smoltification feed “in a way that was not commonly accepted in the industry and contrary to considerations of sound competition.”​ (STIM’s translation)

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 its smolt feed in 2015.

BioMar Norway had long held that a general known method to improve smoltification in aquaculture cannot be protected by a patent.

During the court process, Biomar referenced the existence of traditional salt feeds for seawater acclimation as an argument for rendering the SuperSmolt patents invalid, noted a press statement from STIM. That company said all judicial authorities have rejected the argument, outlining how "the method that the patent states, contributes to smoltification, prevents desmoltification, provides low mortality and good growth performance both in freshwater and seawater.”​ (STIM’s translation)

"I am satisfied but, of course, not surprised by the Supreme Court rejecting Biomar’s appeal. We can finally put this case behind us and focus fully on new innovations and solutions that can benefit the industry,"​ commented STIM's CEO, Jim-Roger Nordly.

Ida Espolin Johnson, attorney for STIM, said that apart from making it clear that STIMs patent is valid, the judgement makes some clarifications on indirect patent infringements that will also be valuable in future cases.

STIM is the name given to the company that emerged from the June 2019 alignment between Europharma, Fishguard and ACD Pharma.

Related topics Regulation Aquaculture Europe

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