Cases & Deals

Martek Biosciences wins across-the-board victory in biotech dispute before five-judge Federal Circuit panel

Client(s) Martek Biosciences Corporation

On September 3, 2009, a rare five-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued an across-the-board appellate victory for Jones Day client Martek Biosciences Corp. in Martek Biosciences Corp. v. Nutrinova, Inc., Nos. 2008-1459 and 2008-1476. The dispute involved four Martek patents related to the production of DHA, an essential omega-3 fatty acid that provides important health benefits to infants and adults alike.

At trial, a cross-office Jones Day team led by Cal Griffith (Cleveland) and Don Stern (New York) obtained a jury verdict in favor of Martek on all counts, and against defendants Nutrinova, Inc., Nutrinova Nutrition Specialties and Food Ingredients GmbH, and Lonza Ltd., finding that the defendants had infringed all of Martek's patents at issue in the trial. The Federal Circuit's decision fully sustained the judgment for Martek, rejecting Lonza's appeal, and ruled in favor of Martek on two additional patents that the trial judge had ruled out of the case. As a consequence of the Federal Circuit's ruling, the appeal fully preserved Martek's favorable judgment on the jury verdict, and returned the remainder of the case to the trial court for further infringement proceedings.

Martek's DHA, branded as "life'sDHA™," is added to infant formula, milk, juice, and other food products. The patents at issue include technology for producing this product, which is a vegetarian product derived from microalgae fermented in stainless steel fermentors, offering a favorable alternative to fish-oil supplements. Martek is headquartered in Columbia, Maryland.

The appeal was argued on April 21, 2009, before five Federal Circuit judges, rather than the usual three, pursuant to that Court's statutory authority to sit in panels larger than three judges. In addition, the argument took place in a courtroom packed with visiting intellectual property judges from all over the world, who attended the argument at the Court's invitation in connection with the 5th International Judges Conference on Intellectual Property Law, which was sponsored by the Intellectual Property Owners Educational Foundation and was being held at the Washington, D.C. Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

The Jones Day team representing Martek on appeal included Greg Castanias of the Firm's Washington office, who argued the case, Don Stern of the Firm's New York office, Cal Griffith of the Firm's Cleveland office, and Tara Stuckey of the Firm's Washington office.

Martek Biosciences Corp. v. Nutrinova, Inc., Nos. 2008-1459, -1476 (Fed. Cir. 2009)