April 7, 2022
Zanoprima Lifesciences, a UK-based company developing tobacco replacement products, has accused Chinese vaping firm Hangsen of violating its patent to the enzymatic process for making synthetic nicotine.
Zanoprima has filed a patent infringement action at the US District Court in the Western District of Texas alleging that Hangsen’s products contain synthetic nicotine that are manufactured using Zanoprima’s patented and ‘groundbreaking’ process.
Zanoprima claimed that it is the first company to manufacture and make commercially available an enzymatically synthesized form of pure (S)-nicotine – SyNic – that is chemically identical to that derived from a tobacco plant but devoid of harmful tobacco-specific nitrosamines, carcinogens, alkaloids, and other impurities that accompany tobacco-derived nicotine.
It added that SyNic is the purest form of nicotine – over 99% (S)-nicotine – on the market and is available for use in a wide variety of recreational nicotine and nicotine replacement therapy products such gums, lozenges, patches, modern oral nicotine products, electronic nicotine delivery systems, and heat not burn devices.
“Over many years, Zanoprima has invested substantial time, resources, intellectual capital, and scientific expertise into developing Zanoprima’s groundbreaking enzymatic patented process for synthesizing an (S)-nicotine that is devoid of tobacco-specific nitrosamines and other impurities,” Ashok Narasimhan, Zanoprima chief executive, said.
“Zanoprima’s legal action reflects our company’s dedication to vigorously protecting our intellectual property in the US and around the world.”
Hangsen International Group, which maintains an office in London, has not responded to a request for comment. Shenzhen, China-based group is a major manufacturer of e-liquids, with products being sold in more than 85 countries and regions.
Zanoprima’s complaint alleges Hangsen imports into the US from China and sells products containing “alleged high-purity synthetic (S)-nicotine and nicotine products that are marketed and sold under various names including as MOTiVO Synthetic S-Nicotine,” and that such imported products “are manufactured by a process that practices every step of claim 1” of the Zanoprima Patent.
As per the complaint, Hangsen filed a Chinese Patent Application describing a process that copied the process invented by Zanoprima after the publication of Zanoprima’s Patent. But, as alleged in the complaint, Hangsen’s patent application was rejected by the Chinese Patent Office in June 2021 citing Zanoprima’s patent as prior art.
In addition to seeking damages for infringement, Zanoprima seeks preliminary and permanent injunctive relief to prevent Hangsen from continuing its infringing actions.
“Zanoprima Lifescience’s process for manufacturing SyNic represents a technological innovation that provides a fully traceable (S)-nicotine, with high levels of enantiomeric and chemical purity, which is commercially available at prices that rival that of tobacco-derived nicotine. Further, SyNic represents the greatest opportunity to facilitate the movement towards a tobacco free world, enabling all companies, including pharmaceutical companies making nicotine-replacement therapies, to meet their ESG goals through reduced dependence on tobacco-derived nicotine,” Narasimhan added.