Climbing the intellectual property ladder the ChromaDex way.
We write a great deal about supplements – new ones coming to market, ingredient synergies, clinical trials, &c. If a company has spent time and money developing a product, the last thing they want to see is someone ripping off its hard work and leveraging its IP for someone else’s benefit. One company who really knows its onions when it comes to IP is ChromaDex, developers of Niagen, the ingredient that makes up the best-selling supplement Tru Niagen.
Longevity.Technology: Philip Redpath, Director of R&D at ChromaDex, and Aron Erickson, VP of R&D at ChromaDex, join us from their lab in Longmont to talk IP, explain why longevity supplement companies need a strong patent portfolio, types of patents applied for and patenting GRAS compounds – a patent masterclass, if you will.
Philip Redpath and Aron Erikson on…
Built on trust – and trust built in
A great word to describe our branded nicotinamide riboside ingredient is ‘trusted’. We believe it’s the most efficient NAD booster on the market today, and that’s backed by hundreds of peer-reviewed studies, including over 25 published human clinical trials (and counting), with another 40+ registered trials underway via our ChromaDex External Research Program. That program helps third-party institutions worldwide carry out independent research on Niagen, supplied via donation or for purchase, to uncover the full potential of NAD+ and NR. . Science is at the core of our DNA at ChromaDex. This independent research, our dedication to having the highest quality product and our responsible marketing has helped build trust in our brand – and that’s why we continue to be a leader in the space
Keeping a competitive edge
Also part of our DNA is the excellent IP protection we have for Niagen. We believe that our patent portfolio has given us a competitive edge over many other companies in the NAD space. We really tried to move early and quickly before many others to secure our IP with the USPTO, and then to go worldwide with it. We knew early on that rolling out our products to global markets to help as many consumers as possible was a priority for us – and we wanted an IP portfolio to match that. We have an impressive array of over 60 owned or licensed patents protecting Niagen and other related NAD+ precursors. These include a range of the key patents including methods of manufacturing, methods of use and composition of matter patents – the latter among the strongest and most enforceable of patents – covering Niagen [NR Chloride], other forms of NR and other NAD+ precursors, both domestically in the US and internationally in aging markets such as China, Europe, Australia and Canada. Collectively, these patents provide strong protection for NR through the next decade, allowing ChromaDex to launch future innovations.
And to remain a pioneer in the NAD space, we feel it’s important to defend the inventions that we’ve worked so hard to protect, and take action to prevent infringement. A strong portfolio acts as a deterrent, gives you a competitive advantage and gives you the freedom to build the strongest product line.
The ins and outs of marketing claims
It is difficult to develop specific claims in the dietary supplement space as they are regulated both by the FDA and the FTC. Additionally, a supplement company can have a specific Method of Use patented, but will need to do more extensive preclinical and clinical research to develop consumer facing claims as patent claims are not necessarily sufficient enough for marketing substantiation. You cannot state that a supplement, for example, provides a disease benefit. We leverage third party clinical research performed through our industry-leading CERP program as evidence for a general claim, such as ‘supports heart health’. We take this very seriously as the supplement industry has a reputation for prioritizing hype over truth with so many companies misstating or misleading consumers with false claims. We believe the best way to build a trusted brand is to be a trustworthy company and we will continue to lead by example and work to hold the industry to the same standard.
If the delivery system provides an enhanced benefit, increases absorption in a liposomal formulation, for example, then it can play a role in the patents that you are pursuing. However, many delivery mechanisms are well known today, so the mechanism alone doesn’t make it patentable. What is key, is if the delivery mechanism improves a health benefit and is something unknown that you weren’t expecting. This data showcasing the dosage form in combination with that enhanced health benefit can likely be used as a claim for being granted the patent.
It’s typically a combination approach! Or, if you know that your combination of ingredients in your formulation, or your main active ingredient provides a specific health benefit, you can claim that, and then as a depending claim, include different ways to administer or dose your active ingredient. However, as mentioned, patent claims are not necessarily sufficient enough for marketing substantiation as preclinical and clinical studies must be done.
Make the most of your time
Once you obtain a patent, typically there’s about 15 years of life left on that patent. During that time you can build that marketplace – you can own the space and develop your product in that area.