Category Archives: Malaysia

Patent Lawsuit Against Stevia Suppliers

PureCircle USA, Inc. a subsidiary of PureCircle Ltd. and PureCircle, Sdn Bhd, which is based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia has filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court against Sweegen, Inc. claiming that Sweegen’s and Blue California’s Bestevia® are infringing its patent (U.S. Patent No. 9,243,273) which is a method for making Rebaudioside X (Reb-M) is a sweetener derived from Stevia Plant. It was claimed in the lawsuit by PureCircle that Bestevia Rebaudioside M is made by converting Rebaudioside D to Rebaudioside X, also known as Reb M, by using an enzyme called UDP-glucosyltransferase. According to the lawsuit, PureCircle owns or co-owns 77 U.S. patents and is the major producer of stevia globally and due to high demand of sweeteners in the market they are planning to increase the production by 200%.[1]

Sweegen is engaged in selling zero-calorie, Non-GMO Project verified, plant-based Reb-M and Reb-D for use in the food and the beverage industry. The products offered by companies for using stevia sweetners include carbonated beverages, juices, yogurts, ice-creams, nutritional foods, and confectionary goods.  Sweegen, Inc. holds 13 patents along with 130 pending patent applications worldwide regarding stevia sweeteners and is focused on providing next generation stevia sweeteners by including at least 7 novel methods for producing plant-based, Non-GMO, Reb M.[2] The technology is used to make Reb M, which is found sparingly in the stevia leaf and is used in reducing sugar applications like beverages, dairy products and other foods. According to the lawsuit, the patent was issued on 16th January, 2016 and Sweegen on Feb. 21, 2017 announced the commercialization of its Bestevia Rebaudioside M and described the process for making it as a “proprietary and patent pending bioconversion” and also an “enzymatic conversion”. The lawsuit further said that SweeGen has an exclusive license agreement with Conagen, which owns U.S. Patent No. 10,023,604 and the patent involves method for converting Reb D to Reb M. The lawsuit said that based on information received, it is derived that defendants have committed infringement buy making, using, selling, offering for sale, importing, advertising and/or promoting products in the district and the state of California that infringes one or more claims of the patent-in-suit. It is presumed that SweeGen will definitely defend and protect strong IP position against the competitor for the benefits of global customers.

Author: Ms. Deepika Sharma, Sr. Patent Associate and Rishabh, Intern at Khurana & Khurana, Advocates and IP Attorneys. In case of any queries please contact/write back to us at  deepika@iiprd.com.

References:

[1]https://www.foodbusinessnews.net/articles/12535-stevia-suppliers-face-off-in-patent-lawsuit

[2]https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/sweegens-statement-regarding-purecircle-lawsuit-300715090.html

Advertisements

Japanese Patent fund IP Bridge to raise $50m “Intellectual property and innovation” fund in Malaysia

On October 19, 2017 Japanese private equity fund “IP Bridge” disclosed its plan of launching a $50 million fund as a continuation of ASEAN push for “Intellectual property and innovation” and signed an agreement with Malaysian local, Leonie Hill Capital (LCH) [1]. The agreement aims at investing in “IP rich or to-be-rich”, national and regional enterprises in Malaysia and particularly targeting towards technology areas like Internet of Things (IoT), wearable, robotics etc. The agreement is a step towards accelerating the growth of startup companies in Southeast Asia.

This partnership between IP Bridge and LCH makes Malaysia the base of the first intellectual property innovation fund in Southeast Asia. As per the agreement, the two partners will focus their investments on technical companies that have substantial Intellectual Property or worthy enough to develop IP in future and are working in IoT sensors, Robotics, Agri-tech etc.

Further, the ManGo Factory program endorsed by the partnership provides support to venture companies for their overseas expansion. The partnership will “re-domicile more than 10 South East Asian and Japanese start-ups in Malaysia, providing them with facilities, access and market opportunities”. The partnership will provide wide support to the Start-up companies from commercialization, partnership/alliance and access methods to the world market and IP bridge can provide intellectual property utilization strategy and advice related to it. This collaboration of two companies will contribute the development of Malaysian technology companies.

The Prime Minister of Malaysia, Najib Razak, said that since Malaysia is geographically located in the center of ASIAN countries and has an appropriate ecosystem for the growth of start-up companies around the world; it is an appropriate place for start-up companies in Southeast Asia and Japan to procure funds more smoothly. At this, CEO of IP Bridge, Shigeharu Yoshii said “an appropriate ecosystem is required for start-up companies so that delicious rice will not grow without rich soil, clean water, adequate sunlight, insects, frogs, etc.” and its a great honor for them to function as part of Malaysia’s innovation ecosystem to support startup companies.

Najib Razak also added that the startups raised through this fund will generate employment in future and will also provide Malaysia with economic and social opportunities. The CEO of Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), Yasmin Mamoudo said that this Malaysia based innovation fund is a clear indication of growth of Malaysian digital economy. This agreement which launches fund for innovation will keep Malaysia in the conversation as a regional IP centre and further will boost up the relationship with an IP aggregation and monetization firm that is putting together a fairly good track record.

The fund raised by IP Bridge, is the biggest one among Asia’s largest and most active IP funds. For a non-practicing entity to move into the start-up investment space is certainly not a new tactic. This type of fund motivates the companies that are seeking to show a skeptical domestic constituency that IP monetization can be part of a sustainable business model.

On April 26, 2017 in a press release on Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) online portal, it was published that IPOS announced a similar type of innovation fund named as “Makara Innovation Fund” [2]. The Makara Innovation Fund was supposed to invest one billion Singapore dollars in highly growing companies which encompass a strong IP and convincing business models. According to government officials in Singapore, the money in that fund will be used to bolster the country’s IP ecosystem and will target high-growth companies with strong IP and proven business models, leveraging Singapore as a base for their growth and expansion into world markets. This was announced by IPOS and Ministry of Law, along with updates to the IP Hub Master Plan.

Author: Shilpi Saxena, Jr. Patent Associate at Khurana & Khurana Advocates and IP Attorneys can be reached at shilpi@iiprd.com.

 References:

[1] IP Bridge concluded basic agreement with ASEAN-based PE fund under the support of the Malaysian government

[2]https://www.ipos.gov.sg/media-events/press-releases/ViewDetails/one-billion-dollar-innovation-fund-launched-in-singapore-to-drive-enterprise-growth-for-our-future-economy/