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Impossible Foods patent at risk in legal battle with Motif Foodworks

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Impossible Foods Inc. created plant-based burgers and they can be seen at China International Import Expo 2 (CIIE) in Shanghai, China on November 6, 2019, at the National Exhibition and Convention Center.

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Impossible Foods, a plant-based meat manufacturer could lose a crucial patent in settling a legal battle with Motif Foodworks.

Motif requested the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to revoke a Patent held by Impossible that protected the company’s heme tech. It is impossible sued Motif in MarchAccording to the company, its beef-based alternative made from heme is too similar to theirs.

Impossible’s substitutes for beef and pork use soy hemoglobin. It is made from genetically modified yeast and imitates real meat in taste and aroma.

Although both companies are owned privately, Impossible has a much higher valuation at $9.5 billion. In addition to publicly traded Beyond MeatImpossible is helping to revive vegetarian burgers. It could lead to even more competition for the alternative meat market if it loses its patent on heme.

Motif submitted a petition to the USPTO Patent Trial and Appeal Board Wednesday asking for a review of Impossible’s patent and a decision on whether to revoke it.

A spokesperson for Motif stated that they were confident that the Patent Trial and Appeal Board would agree with us and cancel the patent. “Our industry should work together to grow the plant-based category for the greater good – to benefit people and the planet. It is good for the environment. It should be in the market, and not in court.

According to Pitchbook, Motif raised $343.5million from Bill Gates investors and was valued last year at $1.23billion. The biotech startup Ginkgo Bioworks spun it off.

Motif’s launch in 2019 was co-founded by Ginkgo and the CEO Jason Kelly told CNBC that Impossible’s success inspired the formation of Motif, which develops key ingredients for making plant-based proteins and leaves the rest to food companies.

Impossible claims that Motif’s Hemami product infringes its patent for a beef substitute using heme. This molecule is found in beef burgers, which Impossible as well as Motif use as an ingredient. Motif’s Hemami product uses bovine meoglobin to provide its heme.

Impossible stated in its initial complaint that its patent covered the invention of beef substitutes using a muscle reproduction including a heme-containing proteins, at most one sugar compound, and one sulfur compound. It protects the invention of a meat substitute that imitates meat using a fat tissue replacement that utilizes at least one oil plant and denatured protein plant.

CNBC did not reach Impossible immediately for comment.

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