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Aker Biomarine loses krill harvesting patent case

Latter now faces thousands of dollars in court costs.

Søre Sunnmøre Municipal Court in Volda, Norway has found in favor of Norwegian krill harvester Rimfrost in a patent law case filed by Aker Biomarine Antarctic (ABMA).

ABMA, which is owned by Norwegian magnate Kjell Inge Rokke, must now pay NOK 2.3 million (€235,823/$271,614) in court costs.

Aker claimed it owned the patents, had rights to use them and additionally sought compensation as part of a previous dispute with Norwegian bank Nordea and government-backed Innovation Norway.

The court ruled ABMA’s argument for the use of the patent did not hold up. As a result of the ruling, Aker Biomarine Antarctic cannot use the patent on board factory vessel Juvel, reported IntraFish sister publication Fiskeribladet.

According to the municipal court ruling, “the Rimfrost companies claimed that if Aker Biomarine Antarctic had won, they would have had to wind up their krill harvesting operation and Aker Biomarine Antarctic would then have a monopoly on the market.”

The court was aware that Rimfrost has the property rights to the patent and that the Juvel and Emerald Fisheries had the right to use the patent -- "a right of use" that was non-transferable.

In addition, no documentation was provided that proved allegations that Emerald Fisheries bought back the patent from Rimfrost.

Ruling no surprise

Stig Remøy, the principal shareholder in Rimfrost was pleased, and not surprised at the court’s ruling.

“Despite Aker’s numerous attempts to stop us in court and other arenas, Rimfrost is a solid company with dynamic growth,” said Remøy.

The ruling is one of many in both the United States and Norway that has found in favor of Rimfrost.

High stakes

Norwegian companies have been battling for rights in the lucrative Antarctic krill fishery for years. This particular patent conflict stems from Aker's acquisition of the fishing vessel Juvel, and the differing fishing methods of the vessel and Aker's pre-existing methods.

Aker claimed that utilization of dry material from krill in their production amounted to 17.5 percent, while production on the Juvel reached a yield of 24 percent from the dry material.

Juvel krill meal is reportedly worth five to 10 times as much in the market than the formula produced on Aker’s trawlers with its herring oil factory technology.

Aker Biomarine maintained this comparison was incorrect as it concerns two different products with different areas of use.

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