COLUMBIA, Md., April 11 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Martek Biosciences Corporation (Nasdaq: MATK - News) announced today that the European Patent Office (EPO) has granted another patent to Martek for ARA (arachidonic acid) oil made from Martek's microbial source for use in infant formula. This patent covers infant formula supplemented with ARA from Mortierella alpina microorganisms and methods for producing infant formulas with ARA from Mortierella alpina. Martek's ARA oil, branded life'sARA(TM) or ARASCO®, is used in infant formulas worldwide.
The grant of this patent resulted from Martek's patent strategy of seeking divisional patents to strengthen its intellectual property position. Martek sought this patent after a 2005 EPO opposition hearing regarding Martek's original EPO ARA patent resulted in claims that were narrower in scope than originally granted. After this hearing, Martek pursued additional protection in a divisional application. The divisional patent that was granted today covers ARA oil that naturally contains EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) in amounts up to 20 percent of the amount of ARA present in the microbial oil. The patent claims were drafted to prevent competitors from designing around the claims by adding EPA from other sources, such as fish oil. The narrower claims from the EPO opposition hearing covered ARA oils without EPA. As a result, the newly granted divisional patent strengthens Martek's intellectual property position by providing commercially significant protection through January 22, 2012.
"Today's patent grant is further evidence of Martek's strong intellectual property position in Europe for infant formulas supplemented with ARA oil," said Steve Dubin, Martek's CEO. "Martek's strategy continues to be to develop multiple layers of patent protection. Today our patent portfolio protecting our products and ideas includes more than 700 granted patents and pending applications worldwide."
Naturally present in human breast milk, ARA is an essential fatty acid important to infant development and growth. When used in combination with DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), clinical studies have demonstrated numerous benefits for infants receiving ARA supplemented formula. Martek is the world leader in providing ARA for use in infant formulas. Martek's ARA is present in more than 85 percent of infant formula sold in the U.S. and is also used in infant formulas sold in more than 60 countries around the world.
Martek Biosciences Corporation (Nasdaq: MATK - News) 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 DHA omega-3, for use in foods, beverages, infant formula, and supplements, and ARA (arachidonic acid), an omega-6 fatty acid, for use in infant formula. For more information on Martek Biosciences, visit http://www.martek.com/.
Sections of this release contain forward-looking statements concerning, among other things, expectations regarding Martek's European ARA patent for use in infant formula and the patent's effect on the Company's intellectual property strength and competitive advantage. These statements are based upon numerous assumptions which Martek cannot control and involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ. 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 Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2006 and other filed reports on Form 10-K, Form 10-K/A, Form 10-Q and Form 8-K.