Nutrition 21 Defends Patent, Elicits Industry Response

May 1, 2000

2 Min Read
Nutrition 21 Defends Patent, Elicits Industry Response

Nutrition 21 Defends Patent, Elicits Industry Response

PURCHASE, N.Y.--Nutrition 21, a division of AMBI Inc., has filed suit to protect itspatent on chromium picolinate, number 33,988. According to Nutrition 21, 19 companies haveinfringed on its patent. The patent is licensed to Nutrition 21 by the United Statesgovernment for supplying chromium picolinate. The suit seeks $5 million in damages.

Among the companies named in the suit are America's Finest, Kingchem, RelianceVitamins, Sabinsa, American Ingredients, Gallard-Schlessinger Industries, Jarrow Formulas,Triarco and, an online retailer. Four companies, not named, have alreadysettled. Another two are in the process of settling while litigation is still pending withanother three. All companies that settled have paid damages and have signed long-termsupply and licensing agreements with Nutrition 21.

"Nutrition 21 has made a significant investment in scientific research to supportthe claims of the patent and the value of the Chromax brand," said Gail Montgomery,vice president and general manager. "We intend to vigorously enforce our patentrights and protect the competitive advantage our licensees enjoy in the marketplace."

The company also holds three patents for the use of chromium picolinate, U.S. PatentNos. 5,087,623; 5,087,624; and 5,175,156. "We will not tolerate infringement byanyone, including suppliers, retailers, e-tailers and direct marketers," Montgomerysaid. "We also own three patents covering the basic uses of chromium picolinate forbody composition; maintenance of chromium picolinate supplied or licensed by Nutrition 21may be sold for these uses." The company is online at

According to some in the industry, the lawsuit is considered to be nothing more than amarketing effort, designed to raise awareness of the company, or to scare othermanufacturers off after the patent expires. At the very least, say some, it has raisedhackles within the industry. "Nutrition 21 is taking advantage of the patentexpiration by threatening manufacturers," said Art Salerno, president of AmericanIngredients, "We already sell chromium picolinate that is producedby Nutrition 21," Salerno said. "We have audit statements from the past threeyears that show our chromium picolinate is theirs. At SupplySide East, Nutrition 21disseminated information that was false and misleading, even with a number of the namedcompanies present. In response, we may be requesting sanctions against them for filing abad faith lawsuit."

Gallard-Schlesinger,,was also named in the suit. "We have never sold any chromium picolinate," saidSheldon Silbiger, president of Gallard-Schlesinger. "We have a list of anions andcations and minerals in anions and cations and chromium picolinate is on the list. Sincewe've never sold the product, if they want us to take the name off the list, we'll doit," he said.

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