Celaya, Mexico, January 31, 2003 – Pigmentos Vegetales del Centro (PIVEG) was granted a temporary stay of injunction on January 31, 2003, after appealing to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The preliminary injunction was issued by the U.S. Federal District Court for the Southern District of Iowa on January 2, 2003, and prohibited PIVEG from selling its purified lutein products for human consumption in the United States.
The preliminary injunction was the initial phase of a patent infringement suit initiated by Kemin Foods, LC, and the Catholic University of America, in July 2002 alleging that PIVEG has infringed two U.S. patents held by Kemin for the manufacture of purified lutein.
The patents at issue are U.S. patents 5,382,714 and 5,648,564. In his January 2, 2003 ruling the judge denied an injunction based on U.S. patent 5,648,564, and ruled in favor of a preliminary injunction based on 5,382,714.
PIVEG is appealing on the basis of two claims:
1. The scope of U.S. patent 5,382,714 was broadly misinterpreted to apply to lutein “suitable for human consumption” instead of the narrower patent subject, “substantially pure” lutein crystals.
2. The patent is unenforceable due to relevant prior art (Tyczkowski and Hamilton, Research Note: Preparation of Purified Lutein and its Diesters from Extracts of Marigold, 1991 Poultry Science 70:651-54) that existed when Kemin filed its patent application. Kemin knowingly failed to disclose the prior art when filing the patent application in the U.S., making the patent unenforceable. Upon filing for similar patents in Japan and Europe Kemin was required to modify their patent application on the basis of this relevant prior art.
“We have developed our own proprietary processes and capabilities and will continue to defend our right to provide our high quality products to the US market.” said Roberto Espinoza, CEO of PIVEG.
“The evidence presented at trial will show that PIVEG does not infringe on U.S. patent 5,382,714. Until that time we will now be able to continue selling our high quality products,” says a confident Mr. Espinoza. “We are very pleased that the court is considering our appeal so that we can continue providing our products to the industry and remain the world’s leader in carotenoid propagation.”
PIVEG is a global supplier of livestock, food, and nutraceutical products with a 35-year history catering pigments of the highest quality to a demanding global poultry industry, including the U.S. PIVEG has highly specialized carotenoid production and development capabilities - from seed to concentrate - including the propogation and production of nutrition grade Lutein and Zeaxanthin. PIVEG has thousands of marigolds in cultivation, which are processed in one of five plants in Mexico, two in Peru, and a state-of-the-art concentration facility in Celaya. To learn more about PIVEG’s global capabilities visit www.piveg.com.