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Kaneka Corporation v. Zhejiang Medicine

Representative Claim(s)

22. A process for producing on an industrial scale the oxidized coenzyme Q10 represented by the following formula . . . which comprises culturing reduced coenzyme Q10-producing microorganisms in a culture medium containing a carbon source, a nitrogen source, a phosphorous source and a micronutrient to obtain microbial cells containing reduced coenzyme Q10 at a ratio of not less than 70 mole % among the entire coenzymes Q10, disrupting the microbial cells to obtain reduced coenzyme Q10; and oxidizing thus-obtained reduced coenzyme Q10 to oxidized coenzyme Q10 and then extracting the oxidized coenzyme Q10 by an organic solvent in a sealed tank.

Posture:

Motion for Partial Summary Judgement

Exception Category: Natural Phenomenon

“Defendants argue that because microorganisms are able to produce microbial cells containing

‘not less than 70 mole %’ reduced CoQ10 and because the 70 mole % limitation is merely identified, the asserted claims are directed to a patent-ineligible natural phenomenon very similar to that at issue in Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories, Inc.”

“Here, as in CellzDirect, the claims are ‘directed to’ a superior method of producing a certain end product—in this case, efficiently creating oxidized CoQ10 on an industrial scale—rather than to the inherent properties of certain biological materials. That the asserted claims rely on the ability of certain microorganisms to produce reduced CoQ10 at a ratio greater than 70 mole % among the entire coenzymes Q10 under standard culturing conditions does not indicate the claims are ‘directed to’ this phenomenon. ‘Rather, the claims of the ‘[340] patent are directed to a new and useful [industrial process] for [manufacturing oxidized CoQ10].’ ”

Significantly More: Yes

“[E]ven if the asserted claims were ‘directed to’ the natural phenomenon that certain microorganisms have the natural ability to produce at least 70 mole % reduced CoQ10 under standardized culturing conditions, the Court would nevertheless conclude that the claims contain an inventive concept that brings the claims into the realm of patent-eligibility.”