Motif FoodWorks Doubles Down On Impossible Foods Patent Infringement Denial With New Petition

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The legal battle between Motif FoodWorks and Impossible Foods is intensifying. The former has just announced it has filed a petition to challenge the validity of the patent at the centre of the contentious case. 

Motif claims that Impossible’s patent, connected to its alternative beef products, was falsely granted, and has asked a panel of judges from the Patent and Trademark Office to reassess it. If successful, Motif’s action could see the original case thrown out, as there would be no patent in place for Motif to have breached.

Photo by Impossible Foods.

Did Impossible discover heme?

The big question that Motif is asking, and answering, is: did Impossible invent its heme ingredient? The company claims not, citing that it exists in animal muscle fibre and plants already regularly consumed prior to Impossible’s debut. It goes on to iterate that meat substitutes are not a new development either. Together, Motif feels that these issues warrant a close review of Impossible’s original patent, to gauge the validity of its claims of invention.

The existing case, brought by Impossible, centres around an accusation that Motif copied the formers ‘invention’, heme. A soy leghemoglobin additive, it gives products a realistic ‘bloody’ appearance and imparts rich umami flavouring. Motif unveiled its own additive, dubbed ‘HEMAMI’, made from myoglobin. MikeLeonard, CTO at Motif attempted to shut down the issue by stating that it is “a different protein”, but the case is rumbling on since being filed on March 9. 

Photo by Motif FoodWorks.

A lawsuit filed on a baseless patent?

Motif claims the lawsuit should never have been launched as the central patent is invalid. The new review request appears to be the first legal doubling down on the claim.

“Motif will not be deterred in our mission to provide better tasting, nutritious and sustainable meat and dairy alternatives to consumers around the world. Impossible’s claims are a legally and factually baseless attempt to stifle innovation and limit consumer choice to preserve its own profits,” a spokesperson for Motif said. “We are confident the Patent Trial and Appeal Board will agree with our view that the patent never should have been issued and revoke it. Our industry should work together to grow the plant-based category for the greater good – to benefit people and the planet. Competition is healthy. And it should play out in the marketplace, not the courts.”

Green Queen reached out to Impossible for a response to the new petition. A spokesperson for the alt protein giant issues the following statement by email:

“Motif’s stunt is a baseless and meritless attempt to distract from the fact that they have infringed on our patent and are unlawfully using our technology to build their business. Furthermore, Motif’s misleading claim that bovine myoglobin is ‘fundamentally different’ from Impossible Foods’ heme protein is irrelevant and doesn’t change the fact that they have infringed. We’re confident in the strength of our patent and that we will prevail both in the District Court and before the Patent Office.”

Photo by Impossible Foods.

Turbulence for Impossible

Impossible is in the midst of a trademark lawsuit elsewhere, with a U.S. fitness firm called Impossible X. The latter claims it is being bullied by the food manufacturer to relinquish its range of impossible-related trademarked terms. Impossible X was founded one year before Impossible Foods. The case continues.

In the board room, significant changes have just come into effect for Impossible. Almost two weeks after launching a lawsuit against Motif, Impossible’s founder Pat Brown stepped down as CEO. Peter McGuinness, a former Chobani executive, took over the role earlier this month.


Lead photo by Motif FoodWorks.

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