Chr. Hansen and Nestlé settles HMO patent litigation

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In a press statement by Chr Hansen, the firm agreed to withdraw ongoing litigation in Mannheim, Germany with Nestlé withdrawing the pending oppositions against the disputed patent rights.

The Hørsholm-based bioscience company did not disclose any further details of the settlement agreement, when invited to comment.

“Chr. Hansen intends to maintain and expand the acquired portfolio of intellectual property rights covering HMOs and the production hereof and will keep enforcing such IP rights,” ​they said in the statement.

Start of dispute

The dispute’s origins began in January 2020, when Jennewein requested a court injunction to prevent Nestlé selling infant formula products that contained specific HMOs from a third-party supplier.

Jennewein believed the unnamed supplier was infringing on some of Jennewein’s patents and as such Nestlé were also implicated by selling these infant formula products containing the HMOs in question.

The products were part of Nestlé’s infant formula brand Beba Supreme, which contains the HMOs 2′-Fucosyllactose (2′-FL) and Lacto-N-Neotetraose (LNnT) purified by the patent-protected process.

In addition, Jennewein claimed to have evidence that Nestle infant formulas marketed under different trade names also included the two HMOs produced by the purification method.

Jennewein’s patent attorney Dr Andreas Hübel said the process was protected by the patents, EP 2896628​​​ and EP 3131912​​​, which describes a method for the purification of 2’-FL and LNnT from a fermentation broth.

Chr Hansen pays €310m

The dispute then took another twist in October 2020, when Chr. Hansen purchased Jennewein Biotechnologie in a €310m deal that merged the bioscience firm’s probiotic interests with the gains Jennewein made in the HMO market.

With Chr Hansen’s probiotic bacteria offerings, such as LGG and BB-12, and the microbiome-related acquisitions of UAS Labs and HSO Health Care, the actions pointed to heightened interests by the firm in upgrading current infant formulas produced and what is currently available.

The plan taps into a new premiumisation trend in infant formula that Chr. Hansen may be looking to capitalise on to create synergistic blends in the future.

While the purchase of Jennewein gave them access to a strong HMO patent portfolio, Chr Hansen also inherited the ongoing litigation with Nestlé that appears to have been resolved this week.

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