The patent battle between plant-based meat makers, Impossible Foods and Motif FoodWorks, continues with Motif announcing it has filed four new challenges in the US.
The news came shortly after one of Impossible’s European patents, relating to its use of heme, was revoked.
Both the revoked EU patent and the four new challenges in the US are in regards to meat alternative products containing heme protein, sugars and sulfur compounds. According to Motif, these ingredients have been used in meat alternatives for decades and are not patentable.
“We agree with the European Patent Office’s ruling that Impossible’s patent is obvious and look at it as a win for the industry – and a sign of things to come,” said Michael Leonard, CEO of Motif FoodWorks. “At the same time, we continue to challenge additional Impossible patents in the US that also limit plant-based innovation and consumer choice.”
At the centre of the battle is the heme protein. Best described by Food Navigator USA, Impossible’s heme is identical to soy leghemoglobin, a protein found in the nodules of plants such as soy (see video below). Motif’s heme, on the other hand, branded as HEMAMI, is identical to bovine myoglobin, found in the muscle tissue of cows.
Put simply, heme gives plant-based meat products a more genuine ‘meaty’ flavour and also contributes a red colouring.
Earlier this year, Impossible sued Motif, claiming it had violated one of its patents relating to the use of heme. The US patent office declined to review the patent in question but Motif “intends to continue challenging it” and the parallel lawsuit is expected to go before a jury in Delaware.
Since then, Impossible has added four patents to its lawsuit, and Motif is challenging these too, arguing they should never have been granted.
“Since our founding in 2018, Motif has reinvented plant-based meat, making it better tasting, more nutritious and sustainable,” said Leonard. “Impossible is determined to stop that innovation – hurting consumers, our industry and, ultimately, our planet. We will continue to fight Impossible’s aggressive actions to limit competition through every avenue available, including via the patent challenges”.
Impossible is appealing the patent revocation in Europe and says it will not affect the dispute in the US. According to a statement issued to Food Navigator USA, Impossible said its rollout plans in Europe remain unchanged.
Listen to our podcast episode with Impossible’s (former) VP International, Nick Halla, below.