Søre Sunnmøre Municipal Court in Volda has found in favor of Western Norwegian company Rimfrost in the patent law case filed by Aker BioMarine Antarctic (ABMA).
ABMA, which is owned by Norwegian magnate Kjell Inge Rokke, must now pay NOK 2.3 million (€235,823/$271,614) in court costs.
“Aker BioMarine Antarctic does not have the right to use the patent on board [its factory vessel] Juvel according to the relevant regulations. ABMA’s argument does not hold up as it appears to have no basis in either fact or sources of law,” reported IntraFish sister publication Fiskeribladet.
According to the municipal court ruling, “the Rimfrost companies claimed that if Aker BioMarine Antarctic had won, they would have had to wind up their krill harvesting operation and Aker BioMarine Antarctic would then have a monopoly on the market.”
Neither does the court find that the lenders have suffered any loss in connection with the sale. The court was aware that Rimfrost has the property rights to the patent and that the Juvel and Emerald Fisheries only had the right to use the patent, a right of use that was non-transferable. The right of use was also free of charge; a factor that the court believes contradicts the claim that it could be transferred to others.
The claim that Emerald Fisheries bought back the patent from Rimfrost in 2015 based on Emerald Fisheries board’s decision did not hold credence with the court.
“No documentation has been presented that shows a decision by the board of Emerald Fisheries led to the company formally contacting Rimfrost with a demand to repurchase.”
“We are now considering whether we will appeal, for the sake of securing our values and investments,” Aker Biomarine Communications Manager Ingeborg Tennes said.
“In our opinion the court’s ruling is based incorrectly.”
Ruling no surprise
Stig Remøy, principal shareholder in Rimfrost is pleased, and not surprised at the court’s ruling.
“Despite Aker’s numerous attempts to stop us in court and other arenas, Rimfrost is a solid company in dynamic growth,” said Remøy.
The ruling is one of many in both the United States and Norway that has found in favor of Rimfrost.
“In the court case Aker made three claims,” reads a press release from Rimfrost. “Firstly, Aker claimed ownership of the patents. Secondly, Aker claimed right of use to the patents. Thirdly, Aker claimed to have taken over a demand for compensation from Nordea and Innovation Norway for alleged wrongful transfer of the patents.”
“The court ruled completely in Rimfrost’s favor on all claims, as well as ruling that Aker must pay Rimfrost’s court costs.”
“We are very pleased with the municipal court’s ruling,” said Lawyer Ronny Lund from the legal firm Advokatfirmaet Wiersholm, which represented Rimfrost.
There can be no doubt that high stakes and huge sums of money are involved in this game to gain power over krill resources. An indication of this was in the experience of an interested party that wanted to buy the bankrupt Juvel, and was allegedly warned off by Aker.
The issue concerning the Juvel and the patents is a many-faceted conflict that began long before the court case in Volda.
When Fiskeribladet began reporting on the conflict last year, two months after Aker had acquired the Juvel through a forced sale, Aker went to extreme lengths to trivialize the difference between the two production methods used on the Juvel and on Aker’s own krill vessel.
Aker management claimed that utilization of dry material from krill in their production amounted to 17.5 percent, while production on the Juvel was able to document a yield of 24 percent from the dry material.
“Juvel krill meal,” produced with asymmetric hydrolyze is worth five to 10 times as much in the market than the formula produced on Aker’s trawlers with its herring oil factory technology.
Aker BioMarine maintains this comparison is incorrect as it concerns two different products with different areas of use.
Not long after Aker’s “playing down” of Juvel technology, Aker took Rimfrost to court for not releasing the Juvel patents, and demanded the patent case should be heard in Oslo, not Volda.