Kemin Foods Files Lawsuit Against Pigmentos Vegetales Alleging Patent Infringement

DES MOINES, IOWA (July 9, 2002) – Kemin® Foods, L.C. has filed a lawsuit contending that Pigmentos Vegetales (PIVEG), a Mexican manufacturer of poultry pigments, is infringing on two U.S. patents held by Kemin for the manufacture of its FloraGLO® brand of purified, crystal lutein.

Filed on July 9, 2002 in U.S. Federal District Court for the Southern District of Iowa in Des Moines, the lawsuit seeks:

  • An injunction against the defendant’s “continued infringement” of U.S. patents 5,382,714 and 5,648,564.
  • An award of damages, including prejudgment interest and a trebling of damages due to the “knowing, willful and wanton nature” of PIVEG’s conduct.
  • Compensation for attorney’s fees and costs Kemin has incurred as a result of the alleged patent infringement.

“PIVEG’s marketing materials claim that the company’s lutein product is ‘free lutein’ and is ‘derived from marigolds’. This led our scientists to conduct an in-house analysis of the product—the results of which are wholly consistent with infringement,” contends Rodney L. Ausich, Ph.D., Kemin Foods president. “Since we believe that PIVEG knew of Kemin’s legally issued patents, we are left with no choice but to take legal action against a company that is knowingly infringing those patents.”

United States Letters Patent 5,382,714 is titled “Process for Isolation, Purification and Recrystallization of Lutein from Saponified Marigold Oleoresin and Uses Thereof.” The lawsuit states the patent was duly and legally issued to The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., on Jan. 17, 1995. Kemin Foods is the exclusive licensee of the patent.

The lawsuit also notes that United States Letters Patent 5,648,564, titled “Process for the Formation, Isolation and Purification of Comestible Xanthophyll Crystals From Plants” was duly and legally issued to Rodney L. Ausich and David Sanders on July 15, 1997. Kemin is the assignee of all right, title and interest in that patent, the lawsuit says. Kemin’s FloraGLO lutein is formulated in more than 100 multivitamins and dietary supplements worldwide and is the only lutein that is GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) for specific food and beverage applications. Kemin Foods’ FloraGLO lutein is the leading brand of concentrated, purified lutein for vitamins/dietary supplement, personal care/cosmetics and food/beverage applications. A growing amount of scientific evidence shows a clear association between a diet rich in lutein and a decreased risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, a disease that causes irreversible blindness 1-7.

Kemin Foods, L.C. is a global manufacturer and marketer of natural ingredients for the food, dietary supplement and personal care markets. Headquartered in Des Moines, the company is part of Kemin Industries, Inc., which has manufacturing facilities in Iowa, Texas, Belgium, India, Singapore and Thailand. To learn more about Kemin Foods and FloraGLO brand lutein, visit

1. (1992). "Risk factors for neovascular age-related macular degeneration. The Eye Disease Case-Control Study Group.” Arch Ophthalmol 110(12): 1701-8.

2. (1993). "Antioxidant status and neovascular age-related macular degeneration. Eye Disease Case- Control Study Group." Arch Ophthalmol 111(1): 104-9.

3. Seddon, J. M., U. A. Ajani, et al. (1994). "Dietary carotenoids, vitamins A, C, and E, and advanced age- related macular degeneration. Eye Disease Case-Control Study Group." Jama 272(18): 1413-20.

4. Brown, L., E. B. Rimm, et al. (1999). "A prospective study of carotenoid intake and risk of cataract extraction in US men." Am J Clin Nutr 70(4): 517-24.

5. Chasan-Taber, L., W. C. Willett, et al. (1999). "A prospective study of carotenoid and vitamin A intakes and risk of cataract extraction in US women." Am J Clin Nutr 70(4): 509-16.

6. Hankinson, S. E., M. J. Stampfer, et al. (1992). "Nutrient intake and cataract extraction in women: a prospective study." Bmj 305(6849): 335-9.

7. Yeum, K. J., A. Taylor, et al. (1995). "Measurement of carotenoids, retinoids, and tocopherols in human lenses." Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 36(13): 2756-61.

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