Syngenta is suing agrochemical maker Atticus LLC over allegations of patent infringement. The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, alleges, among other things, that Atticus’ Acadia 2 SC, Acadia ESQ, Aquila XL, Artavia 2 SC, and Artavia Xcel products each infringe certain Syngenta patents relating to the manufacture of azoxystrobin fungicide.
Syngenta argues that Atticus’ alleged infringement enables it to unfairly compete in the crop protection market and benefit from significant product development investments made by Syngenta, the original developer of azoxystrobin. The lawsuit seeks to permanently stop Atticus’ alleged infringement of Syngenta’s intellectual property rights, to recover damages adequate to compensate Syngenta for Atticus’ infringement, and to obtain other equitable and monetary relief.
Azoxystrobin was first approved by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1997. The original compound patents covering azoxystrobin expired in 2014, Atticus said in a news release. Atticus is the 12th technical registrant of azoxystrobin and is now the leading importer of generic azoxystrobin products.
Atticus says the issue centers on two Syngenta patents, protecting very specific methods of manufacturing azoxystrobin.
“Contrary to Syngenta’s allegations, the azoxystrobin products from Atticus do not infringe on Syngenta’s narrow process patents,” said Atticus CEO Randy Canady. “Any allegation to the contrary is false, and Atticus will vigorously defend itself in court and in the marketplace.”
Syngenta said it has invested significant resources in researching, developing, and ultimately commercializing azoxystrobin, a breakthrough fungicidal chemical, which effectively controls a variety of plant diseases and enhances the yield of crops, including cereals — such as wheat and barley, fruits, vegetables, bananas, rice, soybeans, corn, turf, and ornamentals. Syngenta has marketed a number of azoxystrobin products, including those under the trade names Abound, Heritage, Quadris, and Quilt.
“In this instance, our counsel even engaged with Syngenta’s counsel so they could confirm that our products are not infringing on their patents,” Canady said. “Rather than accept that offer, Syngenta filed suit with incomplete information and without diligently investigating the facts.”
The stringent regulatory approval process and high cost of research and development for new crop protection chemistries require a major commitment: the average time to bring a new crop protection product to market is up to 11 years and can cost $286 million.