COLUMBIA, Md., Nov. 15 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Martek Biosciences Corporation (Nasdaq: MATK) announced today that the Opposition Division of the European Patent Office (EPO) has ruled in favor of Martek and upheld one of the Company's European docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) patents. The modified claims of the patent are narrower than the claims originally granted but broader than the claims that were previously upheld in a December 2000 Opposition Division hearing. The patent, which expires in November 2010, relates to fermentation processes, human and animal food products, pharmaceutical uses of certain claimed microorganisms, and Martek's food DHA production strain.
Fermentation process claims in the patent that provide important commercial protection for Martek were upheld by the EPO, while certain product claims were narrowed by the elimination of coverage for extracted DHA oil. These fermentation process claims are not limited to any particular use of the DHA oil, i.e., they are relevant if the oils from the claimed processes are used in food or nonfood applications, such as human and animal foods, supplements, and pharmaceuticals. The Company believes that, on an overall basis, the patent as modified remains an important part of the Company's intellectual property portfolio and that the narrowing of the claims of the patent should not have any material adverse impact on the Company.
The patent was the subject of a challenge by Aventis Research and Technologies GmbH & Co. KG, and Nagase Limited. The Company believes that it is probable that at least one of the opponents of the patent will appeal the Opposition Division's decision. If an appeal is made, the Appeal Board hearing would be anticipated to occur in about two years.
About Martek Biosciences
Martek Biosciences Corporation (NASDAQ: MATK) is a leader in the innovation and development of DHA omega-3 products that promote health and wellness through every stage of life. The Company produces life'sDHA(TM), a sustainable and vegetarian source of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), for use in foods, beverages, infant formula, and supplements. The Company also produces life'sARA(TM) (arachidonic acid), an omega-6 fatty acid, from a sustainable, vegetarian source, for use in infant formula. For more information on Martek Biosciences Corporation, visit http://www.martek.com/
Sections of this release contain forward-looking statements, including, without limitation, statements concerning the course and outcome of current and future legal proceedings and the strength of Martek's patent portfolio. These statements are based upon numerous assumptions which Martek cannot control and involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ. For instance, Martek cannot predict with certainty any events associated with the EPO appeal process, the future actions of Martek's customers or competitors or prospective customers or competitors or the competitive and financial impact of any final EPO decision on the value of Martek's intellectual property. These statements should be understood in light of the risk factors set forth in the Company's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including, but not limited to, the Company's Forms 8-K, 10-Q and 10-K.
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