The J.R. Ewing of Pet Food
Wysong Pet Foods is in the midst of a J.R. Ewing/Dallas TV Show type of battle. Pet Food giant Purina is demanding Wysong pay licensing fees for a technology that Purina doesn’t use and Wysong invented.
This story seems to be taken right from the pages of an old Dallas TV Show script. J.R. Ewing is back to his old tricks; stealing from the little guy to fatten his wallet. In this episode, J.R. noticed that some goodie-two-shoes had an idea that could make him some big bucks; therefore, he steals it, selling the idea as his own. Although J.R. Ewing was a television character, he seems to live and breathe in the form of a pet food company; Purina.
Wysong pet foods was one of the first (if not ‘the’ first) pet food company to produce dog foods and cat foods using ingredients other than leftovers from the processing of human foods. In the early 1980’s, Dr. Wysong, realizing the health benefit probiotics could provide pets, developed a technology to “enrobe pet and human foods with probiotics”. Wysong has provided health promoting probiotics in their dog and cat foods ever since.
In 1999, almost 20 years AFTER Wysong Pet Foods had been using the technology and providing probiotics in their pet foods, Nestle Purina was granted a patent (Patent 5,968,569) by the US Patent Office claiming they developed the pet food probiotic technology. The existing patent states: “A dried, ready-to-eat pet food product comprising a gelatinized starch matrix which includes a coating or filling which contains a probiotic micro-organism.” http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-bool.html&r=13&f=G&l=50&co1=AND&d=PTXT&s1=probiotics&s2=Nestle&OS=probiotics+AND+Nestle&RS=probiotics+AND+Nestle
Purina’s patent provides background information citing the many health benefits of probiotics; “probiotic bacteria are believed to be useful in the treatment and prevention of conditions caused by pathogenic bacteria.” However, when you scan the long list of pet food brands manufactured by Purina (Dog Chow/Cat Chow, Purina One, Beneful, and on and on) there doesn’t seem to be any dog food or cat food that contain probiotics. Confusing.
Now…Purina is suing; demanding Wysong pay Purina licensing fees for using the pet food probiotic technology. Yes, the technology that Wysong invented almost 20 years prior. Yes, the technology that Purina touts to benefit pets that Purina does not use. Purina is claiming the idea that pet foods containing probiotics is their original idea and demanding Wysong to pay licensing fees for using this technology in their pet foods.
Dr. Wysong did not apply for a patent when he developed this technology for pet and human foods in the early 1980’s. “Due in large part to Wysong’s educational efforts and product development, probiotics have become a part of the collective health consciousness of the public and food industry.” In essence, Dr. Wysong did a good thing for all of us, and he welcomed the world to utilize his technology. Now, his company is in the midst of a multi-million dollar law suit because of his research and generosity.
Will J.R. Ewing successfully destroy ‘the goodie-two-shoes’ and laugh all the way to the bank? Time will tell; however, the odds seem to be in Wysong’s favor. Wysong states “a patent is not valid if the invention exists in the public domain prior to the patent.” This held true in 2004 when Purina tried to obtain a European patent on the probiotic technology. The European patent review board denied Purina a patent (twice, the decision was upheld on appeal).
To learn more about Wysong Pet Food’s battle with Purina and post comments of encouragement, visit http://www.wysong.net/wysong-vs-purina.php.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
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