Earlier, Novozymes won a patent infringement suit against Danisco concerning infringement of a Novozymes patent on enzymes for bioethanol. The court ordered Danisco to pay damages of $4 million, which has now been doubled to $8 million as the court found the case to be one of ‘willful infringement’. Novozymes was also awarded a share of its attorney’s fees and costs.

Novozymes said it had contacted Danisco warning that the patent was about to issue and warned them to stop making and selling its Spezyme Ethyl product, an alpha amylase enzyme used in ethanol production. Since they refused to withdraw their product after being put on notice of the patent, the infringement was found to be willful. The court also issued a permanent injunction against Danisco but Genencor has launched a new product – Spezyme Xtra – to replace Spezyme Ethyl.

Spezyme Ethyl is a thermostable alpha-amylase enzyme for the liquefaction of starch at high temperatures and is used in the production of bioethanol. In March, 2005, Novozymes A/S filed a complaint against Danisco’s subsidiary Genencor in the United States District Court for the district of Delaware for patent infringement under U.S. Patent No. 6,867,031. The complaint, which was filed the same day Novozymes’ patent issued, focused on the manufacture, use and or sale of Genencor’s SPEZYME® Ethyl, a high performance amylase enzyme that is sold to the fuel ethanol industry.

The ‘031 patent claims a variant of a parent Bacillus stearothermophilus alpha-amylase. The variant improves the stability of alpha-amylases which are obtainable from Bacillus strains and which themselves had been selected on the basis of their starch removal performance in alkaline media.

We’ll leave the discussions of the politics and economic long-term viability of bioethanol as an alternate fuel to others.

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