‘A resounding patent portfolio is a treasured asset’: Patent filings shine gentle on microbial innovation trends

‘A resounding patent portfolio is a treasured asset’: Patent filings shine gentle on microbial innovation trends

George James and Monika Rai, who work at psychological property law company EIP, recently performed a see attempting at microbial trends in the foods and drinks landscape. The use of EIP’s search and analytics application, Patently, they examined patent filings positioned between 2009 and 2019.

“The microbes most up-to-date in our digestive diagram, forming the gut microbiome, had been increasingly prioritised in foods and drinks merchandise over the final 20 years,”​ the IP consultants concluded.

This shows rising awareness of the significance of digestive health on overall wellness. Over the final decade, efforts such because the Human Microbiome Project comprise highlighted the ‘expansive diversity’ of purposeful microbes that dwell in our our bodies – and microbiome innovation is now of ‘expansive curiosity’ to the diet, agriculture, health and non-public care sectors.

“Such merchandise, which comprise a functional carry out on the health of the digestive tract, had been original by shoppers and in the meanwhile are fashioned on supermarket shelves,”​ James and Rai current. “The diet sector, driven by client seek info from, is recognising the fee in rising and marketing merchandise that are purposeful to the gut microbiome. These merchandise comprise those containing particular purposeful microbes, identified as probiotics, and folks that have ingredients, identified as prebiotics, that promote the event and repairs of healthy gut microbes.”

Frigid kefir and original fermentation

Microbes had been outmoded in baking, brewing and cheesemaking for generations. But extra recently, merchandise equivalent to kefir – a product made of fermented goat milk – comprise seen a surge in reputation as shoppers change into extra mindful of the advantages of striking forward a healthy microbiome.

“Its reputation has been reflected by patent filing trends, where the preference of patent families worldwide containing the phrase ‘kefir’ boomed in 2016; a patent family being a bunch of linked patents,”​ explained James and Rai.

EIP image 1

Pic: EIP info

Fermentation is silent a hot topic, with manufacturers increasingly leveraging bacteria or yeasts to remodel carbohydrates to alcohol or natural acids. This can red meat up the taste, texture or aroma of meals. It will also additionally red meat up shelf-life by inhibiting the event of undesirable microbes.

“These qualities, moreover to process bustle and yield, are of extreme significance to food manufacturers, who in turn most incessantly rely upon patents to provide protection to their inventions relating to to these formulation. To illustrate, one applicant has been in a location to efficiently diagram safety in Europe for a composition outmoded for the period of fermentation that comprises particular lactic acid bacteria, which is asserted to inhibit the event of pathogenic microorganisms in food merchandise for longer sessions of time. Varied such inventions comprise Lactobacillus fermentum traces that originate bigger the pH of a fermented milk product equivalent to yoghurt, to forestall submit-acidification which leads to spoilage and techniques for lowering the lunge time in a fermentation of a put together.”

But patent filings for merchandise which comprise a particular impact on the gut microbiome appear to comprise attracted the most consideration. 

Probiotics: Dairy dominates

Globally, EIP info published, there has been a jump in the preference of patent filings linked to pro- and prebiotics over the final 5 years.

Interestingly, the researchers highlight, patent locations of work including the European Patent Residing of enterprise haven’t seen an originate bigger in filing relate. Reasonably, the realm jump has been fuelled by an acceleration in China. This, James and Rai keep in mind, would perhaps well point out China is coming to the ‘forefront’ of analysis in the discipline.

To dig a exiguous bit deeper, the IP consultants centered their analysis on fashioned food classes containing purposeful probiotics, focusing on dairy, cereals and mueslis. 

“Our info surely means that, for the period 2009-2019, dairy used to be the most established probiotic-linked food class,”​ James and Rai suggested FoodNavigator.

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Pic: EIP info

“From 2009-2019, we known over 70 European patents namely directed in direction of dairy merchandise containing living probiotic bacteria which comprise an carry out on the digestive tract, which provide protection to compositions, bacterial traces and makes use of thereof in treating issues and striking forward a healthy gut. This comprises, as an illustration, Danone’s patent for a fermented dairy product comprising a Streptococcus thermophilus stress, for rising or striking forward a Faecalibacterium prausnitzii inhabitants, the most abundant bacterium in the gut of a healthy grownup, which plays a significant position in the gut microbiota. A extra instance is Nestlé’s patent for myo-inositol and a combination of probiotics to be used in the prevention of extra physique weight in infants.”

Nonetheless, they insisted, there might be masses of opportunity in dry food classes admire cereals.

“Probiotics in the meanwhile are incessantly display in dried meals equivalent to cereal and muesli, and a spread of such merchandise is obtainable on supermarket shelves. Our info showed that, no topic rising seek info from, there had been very few patents namely directed in direction of probiotics in cereal and muesli between 2009-2019,”​ we had been suggested.

“That talked about, despite the indisputable truth that the preference of patents chanced on with classifications for every probiotics and dried meals used to be low, this does not point out that probiotic inventions that are able to being outmoded in such merchandise are no longer protected by patents. To illustrate, a probiotic will be claimed in a patent and be suitably outmoded in a wide form of food kinds. The patent itself would perhaps well no longer even reveal to cereals namely, as an illustration. If this had been the case, the patent would no longer necessarily be given a particular food class classification and attributable to this truth would perhaps well no longer seem in a focused search. This is applicable equally to other particular food classifications. To illustrate, one application known in our search relates to a recent bacterium, outmoded as a prophylactic to forestall Listeria infections, in food merchandise starting from cereal to yoghurt.”

Gut health is substantial alternate

The majority of IP purposes in the see period had been made by expansive multinational organisations, which leverage patents to provide protection to their psychological property rights and commercial interests. 

“One of the most most active companies on this field for that period had been French multinational Danone, together with its subsidiary Nutricia, as smartly as Mead Johnson Vitamin, Nestlé, and Nestec, an organization with principal ties to Nestlé. Every of these companies held a significant preference of patent families every globally and in Europe namely,​” Rai and James current.

“It would perhaps well smartly be unsurprising that Danone holds one of the most glorious numbers of dairy and probiotic linked patent families for a single entity, inflamed by the reputation of its probiotic merchandise, including Actimel and Activia.  The patenting relate of expansive companies on this discipline, including Danone, Nestlé and MJN highlights the fee that such companies put to IP rights for impress recent advances.”

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Pic: EIP info

Nonetheless, James and Rai serene detect field for smaller companies and challenger brands in the gut health field.

“Though the significance of probiotic merchandise has no longer escaped a pair of of the enviornment’s largest diet companies, which look like dominating this discipline, this does not point out that smaller companies can no longer discontinuance success,”​ they suggested us.

From 2009-2019, the European Patent Residing of enterprise got over 500 patent application directed in direction of meals containing purposeful probiotics. Of those, Danone, Nutricia, MJN, Nestlé and Nestec had been the fashioned family applicant on most efficient roughly 40%. A lot of different companies, minute, medium and expansive, had been accountable for around 60% of filings in the discipline at the EPO.

“Patents will be extraordinarily necessary resources to smaller companies attempting to red meat up their location, by offering a competitive advantage and attracting doable traders. Furthermore, a principal patent portfolio is a treasured asset that bigger companies would perhaps well detect to catch,”​ the IP consultants suggested.  

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