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Impossible Foods sues rival plant-based meat company Motif for patent infringement


Meatless burger maker Impossible Foods has sued competitor Motif Foodworks, accusing the startup of copying its technology for imitating the taste of real meat.

The lawsuit filed in Delaware federal court alleges that Motif, a spinoff of biotech company Ginkgo Bioworks, infringes an Impossible Foods patent by using a protein molecule called heme in its plant-based beef.

Impossible’s lawsuit said heme is a ‘central component of meat’s appeal,’ and Impossible incorporates the protein in its plant-based burger to replicate meat’s taste, smell, and ‘overall sensory experience.’ 

A Motif spokesperson told DailyMail.com that the lawsuit is ‘a legally and factually baseless attempt to stifle innovation and limit consumer choice’ and vowed the company would fight the claims.

Impossible Foods, maker of the Impossible Burger (above) has sued competitor Motif Foodworks, accusing the startup of copying its technology for imitating the taste of real meat

The lawsuit filed in Delaware federal court alleges that Motif (whose burger is seen above), a spinoff of biotech company Ginkgo Bioworks, infringes an Impossible Foods patent

The lawsuit filed in Delaware federal court alleges that Motif (whose burger is seen above), a spinoff of biotech company Ginkgo Bioworks, infringes an Impossible Foods patent

Impossible uses soy leghemoglobin (above) for the heme it its fake burger

Impossible uses soy leghemoglobin (above) for the heme it its fake burger

The suit says that the heme in Impossible’s products comes from soy leghemoglobin, and that the company manufactures the molecule using a proprietary strain of yeast in a process protected by patent.  

The lawsuit said Motif uses of an ingredient it calls ‘Hemami’ in its imitation burgers, alleging that this infringes the Impossible Foods patent covering a ‘beef replica’ product that also uses heme.

Impossible Foods asked for an undisclosed amount of money damages and a court order blocking Motif’s sales of the allegedly infringing burger.

An Impossible Foods spokesperson said the company welcomes competition but does ‘not tolerate attempts to undermine our brand or products’ through infringement.

The lawsuit was first filed in March. Last week, Motif filed a challenge to the Impossible patent, and requested that the lawsuit be delayed while the patent is under review.

Impossible was founded in 2011 by Patrick O. Brown, and launched its first Impossible Burger in 2016. 

Impossible was founded in 2011 by Patrick O. Brown, and launched its first Impossible Burger in 2016

Impossible was founded in 2011 by Patrick O. Brown, and launched its first Impossible Burger in 2016

Impossible was valued at $7 billion in a funding round last year, but has not yet gone public

Impossible was valued at $7 billion in a funding round last year, but has not yet gone public

The product was reformulated in 2019 and is sold a grocery stores, as well as in menu items from Burger King and Little Caesars.

Impossible was valued at $7 billion in a funding round last year, but has not yet gone public.

Top rival Beyond Meat debuted on public markets in 2019, reaching a peak valuation of $14 billion, but has since plunged in value and has a current market capitalization of $2.3 billion.

Motif was launched in 2019 as a spinoff of genetic engineering firm Ginkgo Bioworks, which remains a major investor.

The company says that its Hemani ingredient creates ‘real umami flavors, appearance and aromas of meat – without the animal. We’ve unlocked a step-change in what’s possible in meat alternatives.’

Motif has demonstrated its replica burger at trade shows and is valued at $76 million

Motif has demonstrated its replica burger at trade shows and is valued at $76 million

Motif has a deal with Dallas-based restaurant Coolgreens to sell its imitation burgers as a menu item, and has demonstrated its replica burger at trade shows, including the Plant-Based World Expo in New York in December 2021.

A Motif spokesperson told DailyMail.com in a statement: ‘Motif will not be deterred in our mission to provide better tasting, nutritious and sustainable meat and dairy alternatives to consumers around the world. 

‘Impossible’s claims are a legally and factually baseless attempt to stifle innovation and limit consumer choice to preserve its own profits. 

‘We are confident the Patent Trial and Appeal Board will agree with our view that the patent never should have been issued and revoke it. 

‘Our industry should work together to grow the plant-based category for the greater good – to benefit people and the planet. Competition is healthy. And it should play out in the marketplace, not the courts.’



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