In a “landmark” intellectual property ruling, China’s supreme court has decided in Denmark’s Novozymes favour in a trial against two competitors accused of infringing its enzyme patent.
The dispute began in 2011, when Novozymes found evidence that Shandong Longda Bio-Products and Jiangsu Boli had been producing and selling Novozymes’ proprietary glucoamylase enzyme for use in the bioenergy and beverage industries, violating one of the Denmark-headquartered company’s Chinese patents.
Over the next two years two courts in Tianjin ordered Longda and Boli to stop making and selling the products and pay statutory damages totaling 1.7m yuan (US$250,000) to Novozymes.
Following appeals by the two Chinese companies, which argued that the patent had been invalid, the case subsequently passed through various levels of the court system before arriving at the Supreme People’s Court of China, which upheld the patent. The court’s verdict is final and cannot be appealed.
Mikkel Viltoft, Novozymes’ general counsel, commended China’s patent and court system for “taking an important step towards protecting biotech innovations”.
“This landmark verdict will spur growth and investments in China and encourage local inventions, and it shows that China is serious in its efforts to protect intellectual property rights.
“We firmly believe it is in society’s best interest that intellectual property rights are respected, as this provides the necessary incentive to invest in tomorrow’s innovations,” Viltoft added.
Novozymes said in a statement that it now expects that the original infringement decision from 2011 to be respected.
The judgment from the Supreme People’s Court of China does not change Novozymes’ financial outlook for 2017.
Novozymes opened its first office in Beijing in 1995 and today has more than 1,000 employees across six sites in China, where the company operates both research and development, production, sales, marketing and other support functions.