COLUMBIA, Md., April 29, 2005 /PRNewswire-FirstCall via COMTEX/ -- Martek Biosciences Corporation (MATK) announced today that the Opposition Division of the European Patent Office has upheld the Company's European arachidonic acid (ARA) oil patent in a form containing modified claims which are narrower than the claims originally granted. Martek indicated that the patent remains an important part of the Company's intellectual property portfolio. The modified claims of the patent relate to fungal ARA oil from Martek's strain in infant formulas free of EPA, providing Martek with valuable precedent for expanding its ARA patent coverage in Europe. Martek believes it is likely that the opponents of the patent will appeal the decision.
Martek's CEO Henry "Pete" Linsert, Jr. remarked, "I believe the ruling today validates Martek's invention in the field of ARA oils, and more importantly, should set the stage for greater victories in the future."
In an effort to broaden the claims of the patent, Martek also intends to appeal the decision. When Martek lodges its appeal, the original patent will be reinstated for the duration of the appeal period, which is anticipated to take up to two years to complete. As a further step, the Company intends to file in the near future one or more new applications based on the original ARA oil patent application which will be designed to broaden the scope of protection provided by both the patent and other intellectual property relating to ARA. In addition, the Company has pending ARA and other patent applications in Europe which, if granted, would provide additional important intellectual property protection.
Because the patent in its original form will be in effect during the appeal process, combined with the protection afforded by its other European patents, the Company does not expect the ruling to have a short-term impact on the Company's sales to the infant formula industry. Martek believes that it has substantive grounds for both the appeal and the granting of patents under new and existing applications and intends to vigorously pursue these matters.
Martek's ARA oil is currently used only in infant formulas, whereas Martek's DHA oil, branded Martek DHA(TM), is used in functional foods and dietary supplements, as well as infant formulas. In addition to its European patents, Martek holds patents on its ARA oil, DHA oil, and ARA/DHA oil blends in the United States and various countries throughout the world.
This press release contains forward-looking statements concerning, among other things:
(1) expectations regarding certain patent matters; (2) the patent appeal process; (3) the filing of a new patent application on ARA and its effect; and (4) the potential impact of the ruling upon future sales of Martek's products.
Such statements involve risks and uncertainties that could cause future actual results to differ due to a variety of risk factors, including without limitations those factors set forth in Exhibit 99.1 to the Company's Form 10-Q for the fiscal quarter ended January 31, 2005 and from time to time in the Company's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Martek Biosciences Corporation develops, manufactures and sells products from microalgae. The Company's products include: (1) specialty, nutritional oils for infant formula that aid in the development of the eyes and central nervous system in newborns; (2) nutritional supplements and food ingredients that may play a beneficial role in promoting mental and cardiovascular health throughout life; and (3) powerful fluorescent markers for diagnostics, rapid miniaturized screening, and gene and protein detection.