Jury rules in favor of U.S. Water in patent infringement suit

By Lisa Gibson | November 07, 2017

A federal jury in the Western District of Wisconsin unanimously found in favor of U.S. Water Services in a patent infringement lawsuit against Novozymes A/S and Novozymes North America Inc.

The jury found Novozymes’ sale of Phytaflow to its customers caused infringement of two U.S. Water patents—U.S. Patents Nos. 8,415,137 and 8,609,399—relating to U.S. Water’s pHyOUT deposit control technology, and that the patents are valid, according to U.S. Water.  The jury awarded U.S. Water $7.58 million in past damages. 

U.S. Water will be seeking an injunction barring Novozymes from selling Phytaflow, according to Sarah Haug, director of marketing and communications for U.S. Water.

“We are grateful to the jury for their hard work and pleased that they reached precisely the right verdict,” said LaMarr Barnes, CEO of U.S. Water, in a statement on behalf of the company and the two inventors in the U.S. Water patents, Roy Johnson and Paul Young. “This verdict is confirmation of our long-held belief that the pHyOUT technology is a true innovation in the fuel ethanol industry.”

Frederik Bjoerndal, Novozymes’ corporate press manager, told Ethanol Producer Magazine in an email, “Novozymes is disappointed in the jury’s ruling and we intend to appeal. Novozymes first described the use of phytase in fermentation in a patent application filed in 2000, seven years prior to U.S. Water. We are confident that the use of Phytaflow does not infringe any valid patent, and Phytaflow and our phytase-blended products will remain available while the litigation continues.”

U.S. Water’s pHyOUT technology was designed to control mineral deposit scaling in ethanol processing equipment that can impede heat transfer and flow, and compromise proper operation, according to the company. The technology also is designed to reduce back-end fouling and sulfuric acid use. The company sued Novozymes for infringement of its patents in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, alleging that Novozymes provides Phytaflow to its ethanol plant customers and instructs the plants to use the enzyme in an infringing manner.

“The jury found that Novozymes knew about U.S. Water’s patents and induced its customers to infringe these patents by aiding, instructing or otherwise acting with an intent to cause such customers to use Phytaflow in a manner that infringes U.S. Water’s patents and contributed to its customers’ infringement of these patents,” Haug said.