14 Mar 2011

Legal row between big fertiliser co-operatives ends

5:57 am on 14 March 2011

A long-running legal row between the country's two big fertiliser co-operatives over patent rights has ended.

The Ravensdown company has been trying to patent the application technology for its Eco-n nitrification inhibitor since 2002, when it lodged the application.

The product, developed with Lincoln University scientists, is designed to reduce nitrate leaching and nitrous oxide emissions from grazed pasture, as well as increase production.

The New Zealand patent was approved by the Intellectual Property Office in 2009. The other fertiliser co-operative, Ballance Agri-Nutrients, which has a competing product on the market, challenged it in the High Court, which has upheld the patent.

Ravensdown chief executive Rodney Green says that means it can discuss licensing the technology with other users in New Zealand.

He says the patent has already been granted in Argentina and Australia and the patent is well advanced in Europe and the United States.

Mr Green says it means the company can now have discussions with others who may interested in utilising the technology and can continue to promote it.

Ballance Agri-Nutrients says it won't be appealing the High Court's decision.

But Ballance's chief executive Larry Bilodeau says the company had challenged the patent on the grounds that there was no new science, or invention involved and it continues to hold that view.

He says the global science behind nitrification inhibitors is not exclusive to any company.