SYDNEY and DAVIS, CALIF. — Arista Cereal Technologies Pty Ltd. successfully has defended a patent involving a form of wheat with elevated fiber levels, which is good news for Bay State Milling Co., Quincy, Mass. Arista patents in North America are licensed exclusively to Bay State Milling, which uses high-fiber wheat in its HealthSense high-fiber wheat flour.
The Patent Trials and Appeals Board of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in an Aug. 14 decision ruled against Arcadia Biosciences, Inc. on priority of invention, saying a patent application filed by Arcadia Biosciences did not describe an invention claimed in Arista’s patent.
“It provides market assurance for our exclusive commercial partner Bay State Milling, who is currently selling HealthSense wheat flour in North America,” Eric Vaschalde, chief executive officer of Sydney-based Arista, said of the ruling.
Davis-based Arcadia Biosciences responded by filing an appeal to the United States Court of Appeal for the Federal Circuit and filing a lawsuit Sept. 4 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Arcadia Biosciences lost commercial opportunities and “tens of millions of dollars” in revenues due to the defendants’ conduct, according to the lawsuit.
The Patent Trials and Appeals Board ruled Arcadia Biosciences, which offers a GoodWheat branded ingredients portfolio, was not entitled to claim Arista’s patented technology under U.S. Patent No. 9,357,722. Arcadia Biosciences said the ruling was incorrect because it failed to follow applicable standards and adopted a claim construction inconsistent with Arista’s own statements on the scope of the patent.
“While we seek to assert our rights to the patents in question, there are large geographies unaffected by these patents where we continue to advance our commercialization plans for RS GoodWheat, as well as other GoodWheat branded portfolio ingredients,” said Raj Ketkar, president and c.e.o. of Arcadia Biosciences.
Defendants in the Arcadia Biosciences’ lawsuit are Arista Cereal Technologies and two of its affiliates, Vilmorin and Limagrain. Arista Cereal Technologies is a joint venture formed by Limagrain, a farmer-founded company involved in wheat seeds, and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, Australia’s national science agency.
The lawsuit claims Arcadia Biosciences and Vilmorin, a French company involved in researching, developing and breeding plants, on Nov. 13, 2009, entered into a non-disclosure agreement to discuss potential joint technology development and business opportunities. Arcadia Biosciences shared technical details on its high-amylose wheat technology, which is used to create the high-fiber wheat. The defendants in the lawsuit then misappropriated the technologies developed by Arcadia and claimed them as their own, according to the lawsuit.
Patents mentioned in the lawsuit are U.S. Patent No. 9,357,722 B2, U.S. Patent No. 9,060,533 B2 and U.S. Patent No. 9,585,413 B2. Counts in the lawsuit, with losses believed to be in excess of $10 million for each one, include breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, unfair competition, misappropriation of confidential information, unjust enrichment, conversion and tortious interference.
The patented high-fiber wheat technologies in question are associated with increased levels of resistant starch, which has been shown to decrease glycemic response to foods, a factor that could help prevent and manage diabetes.
High levels of amylose in wheat increase the amount of resistant starch. Amylose makes up about 25% of conventional wheat content. Arcadia Biosciences has reached 94% amylose levels in its High-Fiber RS GoodWheat bread and durum (pasta) wheat varieties. Arista Cereal Technologies has said high-amylose wheat may contain more than 10 times the amount of resistant starch when compared to conventional wheat.
“HealthSense high fiber wheat flour is a game-changing food ingredient,” said Pete Levangie, c.e.o. of Bay State Milling. “With the increasing incidence of diabetes in North America, fiber consumption recommendations on the rise and the advancements in our understanding of the importance of gut health, HealthSense can have a profound impact on the human health in the very near future. We believe this to be an important opportunity for consumers, grain-based food companies and growers.”