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Nutrinova settles Ace-K suit with DMH

By Lorraine Heller , 15-Nov-2007

Ingredient firm Nutrinova has settled another patent infringement case related to its acesulfame K product, solidifying its position in the US sweetener market.

As a result of the agreement, DMH Ingredients has said it will stop importing and selling the sweetener.



Nutrinova's popular sweetener acesulfame potassium, also known as acesulfame K or Ace-K, claims to be around 200 times sweeter than sugar, and is currently widely used in food and beverage products globally following its approval in about 90 countries worldwide, including the US in1988 and the EU in 1983.



Yesterday's announcement follows previous settlements achieved by the firm in the protection of its ingredient.



In July, Nutrinova filed a patent infringement suit against DMH, Viachem and the Ingredient House, alleging the "unauthorized" import of the product into the United States.



In September, Viachem agreed to stop selling Ace-K.



"It is Nutrinova's strategy to protect its intellectual property rights," said Eckart von Haefen, president of Nutrinova at the time.



As part of yesterday's announcement, he said: "This is another successful step in enforcing our intellectual property rights. We are very pleased that DMH Ingredients has decided to settle this matter with us."



For a number of years, and through a flurry of court cases, Nutrinova has defended the patent for its high intensity sweetener. But the firm was still faced with challenges - including price erosion - associated with the expiration of an important patent for the production of Acesulfame K in March 2005.



In North America, that same process patent was valid in Canada until September 2007.



Nutrinova also said it holds two patents on the key intermediate of the manufacturing process of Acesulfame K, which are valid in the US until 2008 and 2009 respectively.



According to a report published by the Freedonia Group earlier this year, Acesulfame K, together with aspartame, are forecast to remain the leading products in diet soft drinks, due to their use in many of the top brands.



Prices for the two products are forecast to decline by around 1-2 percent annually over the next few years, a "gentle erosion" compared to the high single-digit declines that occurred after their patent protections fell off.

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