Motif FoodWorks suffers setback in IP row with Impossible Foods over heme proteins, but remains ‘confident in our legal position’

The dispute centers on the use of meaty-tasting heme proteins in plant-based meat alternatives, an area in which both companies play.

Impossible Foods’ heme protein is identical to soy leghemoglobin, a protein found in nodules attached to the roots of nitrogen-fixing plants such as soy; while Motif FoodWorks’ HEMAMI ​ ​heme protein is identical to bovine myoglobin, which is found in the muscle tissue of cows.

In a lawsuit filed in March 2022, Impossible accused Motif of infringing its ‘761 patent, which covers the application of heme proteins in meat alternatives. Motif, in turn, filed a petition with the USPTO’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) to challenge the validity of the patent, which it argues should never have been issued in the first place.

USPTO: Motif has ‘not demonstrated a reasonable likelihood that it would prevail with respect to at least one challenged claim’

In a ruling published October 26 and seen by FoodNavigator-USA, however, the PTAB denied Motif’s request for an inter partes review of the offending patent, arguing that Motif had “not demonstrated a reasonable likelihood that it would prevail with respect to at least one challenged claim.”

This does not mean that Impossible Foods will automatically win its lawsuit against Motif, and there are several examples (including in the stevia industry​) of firms that have failed to convince the patent office of their position over a disputed patent that have nevertheless gone on to prevail in civil litigation over the same IP.

However, it is undoubtedly a setback for Motif FoodWorks.

Impossible Foods: Confident the District Court ‘will take the appropriate steps to remedy Motif’s infringement’

In a statement sent to FoodNavigator-USA, an Impossible Foods spokesperson said: “We’re a product company, and this decision by the Patent Office is a testament to our novel technology – which includes our first-of-its-kind plant-based meat.

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