Californian ingredient firm BioCell Technology has filed a suit against the contract manufacturer ProTec Laboratory, which it claims has been selling supplements falsely marketed as containing BioCell’s joint health ingredient.
Filed in the US District Court in the Central District of California, the suit alleges that ProTec’s actions are likely to cause confusion and deceive the public as to the source of the dietary supplements.
According to Suhail Ishaq, vice president of BioCell, ProTec was contracted to produce the dietary supplement product containing BioCell Collagen II, a collagen ingredient for joint and skin health support. The product had obtained a license from BioCell to use the ingredient and display its trademark on the label.
However, Ishaq claims that ProTec had not used the genuine BioCell Collagen II because the company had never received the purchase order.
“If a product states it contains a branded ingredient, then it should contain that branded ingredient. Companies should not substitute it for a generic ingredient or sub-standard product as that’s misbranding and misleading,” Ishaq told NutraIngredients-USA.com.
ProTec did not respond to an invitation for comment from this publication; however according to Ishaq, ProTec said it had purchased goods from a surplus wholesaler and used the material to manufacture a finished product labeled to contain BioCell Collagen II.
Ishaq said: “We question the source since BioCell Technology does not sell to surplus vendors, in fact BioCell maintains exclusive US distribution of BioCell Collagen II in raw material form and only licenses BioCell Collagen II for use in finished products.”
Launched in 2004, BioCell Collagen II is a hydrolyzed type II collagen ingredient for use in dietary supplements. It contains hyaluronic acid (HA) and chondroitin sulfate.
BioCell claims the collagen can be used to treat degenerative joint diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, joint defects, vascular disease, progressive myopia, cartilage injuries and connective tissue disorders.
The company also focuses attention on the collagen's perceived skin health benefits, noting that because the product is of low molecular weight it is easily absorbed and readily available for use in the body to reduce sun-induced wrinkles, protect connective tissues, promote cartilage synthesis, heal wounds and improve the overall appearance of the skin.
The ingredient and its manufacturing process are protected by a series of patents.
BioCell said it “selectively” licenses its trademark ingredient to “trusted” manufacturers, in an effort to protect its intellectual property.
“The BioCell Collagen II mark has tremendous value and recognition built up over the years in the marketplace, and we can’t allow any damage to that value,” said Ishaq.
“Over the last several weeks, we have engaged ProTec in a concerted effort to resolve this issue and address any marketplace confusion. However, our efforts were unsuccessful, and we felt we had no choice but to seek recourse in the court system to protect our intellectual property, the product integrity, as well as our consumers,” he added.
The suit seeks permanent injunction, treble damages and disgorgement of profits.