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Vencomatic RED-L Patent Upheld in Germany

by 5m Editor
1 November 2007, at 10:07am

GERMANY - the German Bundespatentgericht (Federal Patent Court) in Munich dismissed Big Dutchman GmbH's nullity complaint against the German part of the European Patent 0 904 690 B1 (DE 698 09 520 T2) covering Vencomatic's RED-L aviary system for layers.

Vencomatic is the exclusive licensee of this patent. The Bundespatentgericht appreciated inventor Roelof Pol's approach based on observational studies of animal behaviour as opening up a new way of solving the problem of floor eggs. Big Dutchman, a German supplier of feeding systems and housing equipment for pigs and poultry, had started the German nullity procedure in response to a complaint of Dutch aviary system manufacturer Vencomatic that Big Dutchman infringed the contested European patent in Germany.

The patent dispute

The present decision is the second court decision in a patent dispute between Vencomatic and Big Dutchman after first the Landgericht Düsseldorf had decided in favour of Vencomatic on its request to order Big Dutchman to stop infringing the European patent. Big Dutchman had not denied infringement but had argued that the infringement procedure should be stayed awaiting the outcome of the nullity procedure before the Bundespatentgericht.

The nullity procedure in which the decision of the Bundespatentgericht to uphold the European patent has now been rendered relates to the validity of the German part of the European patent and is subject of appeal. The decision of the Landgericht Düsseldorf to grant Vencomatic an injunction has already been appealed against by Big Dutchman. However, Big Dutchman's defence is only based on the alleged nullity of the RED-L Patent and does not appear to be convincing anymore in the light of the decision of the Bundespatentgericht. That is why Vencomatic's owner Cor van de Ven is confident that the recent development will bolster Vencomatic's leading position as innovator in the field of alternative aviary systems for laying hens.

Animal behaviour key consideration

The invention of providing a spanning tier equipped with laying nests, sitting facilities, feeding and/or drinking systems and extending over a space between tier units has been found to be of key importance for achieving a low fraction of floor eggs in alternative systems for keeping laying hens. Inventor and poultry farmer Roelof Pol had arrived at the invention back in 1997 based on the insight, after many months of observing laying hens in multi-tier alternative systems, that pecking order and subgroup formation are main considerations to take into account when designing a multi-tier aviary system for laying hens. The observations included video monitoring using a display mounted above the home kitchen table. In co-operation with Vencomatic, the design has meanwhile been perfected and a wealth of know-how has been gathered on how to optimize herd management when using such a system.

Vencomatic and RED-L

Founded in 1983, Vencomatic soon established itself as an innovator in the poultry sector. From its own line of products the Vencomatic group can offer a complete product package. In addition to the well-known line of products, nests, slats, and egg transport systems, Vencomatic can offer aviary systems like Red-L and Bolegg, as well as the Veranda colony system and the VBS broiler system.

RED-L stands for Resting, Eating, Drinking and Laying. This, second generation, aviary system for layers is accessible on all levels and allows a density higher than normal floor housing. Integrated nests and the possibility of training birds in this system, ensures floor eggs are reduced to an absolute minimum. Easy escape possibilities and availability of 100% floor space allow optimum behaviour of the birds.

5m Editor