The long-running dispute between BioMar and STIM over a patent for smolt feed has finally come to an end, with a Norwegian Supreme Court ruling in favour of STIM.
STIM had alleged that BioMar’s Intro Tuning smoltification feed, which has been developed to stimulate faster growth for juvenile salmon in full light, copied the formula created by STIM for its own SuperSmolt Feed.
The Supreme Court Appeals Selection Committee has thrown out the appeal from BioMar against a ruling from Norway’s Borgarting Court of Appeal, which had ordered the feed producer to pay STIM more than NOK 36m (around £3m) in compensation for infringing the latter’s patent.
Ida Espolin Johnson, attorney for STIM, said: “We are happy that this case is now concluded with the correct result. Additionally, it has provided some important judicial clarifications, especially regarding indirect patent infringement, which will be of significance for future cases.”
Biomar was held to have infringed both directly and indirectly on the STIM patents, but it was also criticised in the Borgarting ruling for breaching the business code of conduct.
During the court process, Biomar referred to the existence of traditional salt feeds for seawater acclimation as an argument for rendering the SuperSmolt patents invalid. All judicial authorities have rejected the argument, stating “the method that the patent states, contributes to smoltification, prevents desmoltification, provides low mortality and good growth performance both in freshwater and seawater.”*
STIM launched SuperSmolt FeedOnly in 2015, at a time when faulty smoltification was one of the biggest causes of fish mortality in the salmon industry. The innovation made it easy to ensure a homogenous smolt status within the fish groups, so that every fish could be safely transferred to seawater without welfare issues relating to low tolerance for salinity.
STIM CEO Jim-Roger Nordly said: “I am satisfied, but of course not surprised, by the Supreme Court rejecting Biomar’s appeal. Most of all I am happy that we finally can put this case behind us and focus fully on new innovations and solutions that can benefit the industry.”
An Oslo District Court ruled in 2020 that BioMar could continue to produce and sell Intro Tuning – albeit with a revised formula – following the replacement of a key amino acid, L-Tryptophane, in the BioMar product.
Fish Farmer has invited BioMar to comment.
* (STIM’s translation from the Norwegian).