On May 10, 2016, Ajinomoto Co., Inc. of Japan and Ajinomoto Heartland Inc. of Chicago, Illinois (collectively, “Ajinomoto”) filed a complaint requesting that the ITC commence an investigation pursuant to Section 337.

The complaint alleges that CJ CheilJedang Corp. of South Korea, CJ America, Inc. of Downers Grove, Illinois, and PT CheiJedang Indonesia of Indonesia (collectively, “CJ”) unlawfully import into the U.S., sell for importation, and/or sell within the U.S. after importation certain L-tryptophan and L-tryptophan products that infringe one or more claims of U.S. Patent Nos. 7,666,655 (the ‘655 patent) and 6,180,373 (the ‘373 patent) (collectively, the “asserted patents”).

According to the complaint, the asserted patents generally relate to the production of amino acids by fermentation of microorganisms, such as Escherichia coli (“E. coli”). In particular, the ‘655 patent relates to improved methods for the production of aromatic L-amino acids through the enhanced expression of the YddG protein in E. coli. The ‘373 patent relates to improvements in bacterial strains used for the production of L-tryptophan.

In the complaint, Ajinomoto states that CJ imports and sells products that infringe the asserted patents. The complaint specifically refers to CJ feed-grade L-tryptophan as an infringing product.

Regarding domestic industry, Ajinomoto states that it manufactures L-tryptophan in the U.S. using the strains or methods claimed in the asserted patents. Ajinomoto further states that it has made and continues to make significant investments in plant, equipment, labor, and capital in connection with the manufacturing of its domestic industry products. Ajinomoto specifically refers to a manufacturing facility in North Carolina. In addition, Ajinomoto states that it has made and continues to make substantial investments in the exploitation of the asserted patents through research, development, and support activities in the U.S.

With respect to potential remedy, Ajinomoto requests that the Commission issue a permanent exclusion order and permanent cease and desist orders directed at CJ.