This month , April, has been a month of IP harassment. The most notable theme has been IP holders trying to scare off customers to buying theirs. Even major billion dollar groups get scared of this. What prompted me to write was an email of 30/4 from Sabinsa . Nice timing for the Vitafoods Show next week of course.
You may have had their email extolling their patent on Curcumin ( How come ??) and warning you that you may already be infringing their patents. I quote
We would like to alert you that the curcuminoids material or the piperine material that you may be purchasing from your suppliers or contract manufacturers may actually be infringing the valid claims of patents EP0839037 and EP0810868. It would be in your best business interests to ensure that your organization does not form part of the patent infringement process.”
However they do offer help to get you out of this potential mess by buying from them…so kind !! Nothing like playing on ones fear of being sued or something unfortunate happening..perish the thought..but you better get our protection .
Now in UK Law they have nicely opened themselves to be sued under Groundless Threats. This is a bit of legislation ( UK and Malta only ) that basically prevents patent holders abusing their position against third parties who are not prime producers. I refer you to read this from eminent London Lawyers Irwin Mitchell
Basically it means that unless you are primary producer or importer you should not worry about threats and you can take action against patent holder. I am not a lawyer but I think that retailers, internet sellers to the public and maybe tablet producers are in the clear. But you should check.
The possible good news is that their patent EP0839037 was filed in 1996 and should expire next year. Hence rush maybe for you all to convert now. You can see the patent below which seems to contain a lot of solvents and extractions and more solvents. In that time of 20 years I am sure someone has come up with a better method such as CO2?? I always thinks solvent residues can be a problem
I am sure a few traditional Curcumin Producers will have something to say about it and I would be looking for a process that does not need so many solvents.
Normally I would say up to them to defend a patent but not to try and scare the whole market. That’s what gets me annoyed!
I have had this tactic in the past with Nutrinova and Renessenz who prefer tpo scare customers rather than actual producer