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Kaneka sues Chinese firm for infringing CoQ10 patent

Suit alleges sale of the popular supplement in the US violate protected process

by Rick Mullin
October 12, 2023 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 101, Issue 34


The structure of Coenzyme Q10.

The Japanese chemical company Kaneka has filed a lawsuit against Cocrystal Technology and Cocrystal Health Industry alleging that the related Chinese firmsinfringed on its US patent for a stabilizing method used to produce reduced coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), an increasingly popular supplement for addressing age-related health issues.

The lawsuit accuses Cocrystal of production and sale in the US of a product called Crystal QH, a supplement containing reduced coenzyme Q10, in violation of Kaneka’s patent.

CoQ10 is produced by the body for cell growth and maintenance. Natural production of the enzyme decreases as a person ages. The enzyme, as explained in Kaneka’s lawsuit, takes two forms: oxidized CoQ10, also known as ubiquinone, and reduced CoQ10, or ubiquinol. Ubiquinol has greater bioavailability than ubiquinone; however, it oxidizes quickly, converting to ubiquinone when exposed to air.

Kaneka developed its method of stabilizing ubiquinol to prevent oxidization and began selling the reduced form in the US in 2007. The patent for the stabilizing method was issued in 2010. Kaneka claims it is the only company with the legal right to sell ubiquinol in the US.

The suit contends that Cocrystal offered to sell Crystal QH to Tishcon, a contract pharmaceutical manufacturer in Westbury, New York, in July of last year. Kaneka says it analyzed samples given to Tishcon this year and determined the CoQ10 was 93.1% ubiquinol.

Cocrystal didn’t respond to a request for comment submitted to its website.

This is not the first patent suit brought by Kaneka involving CoQ10. The US International Trade Commission determined in 2012 that Mitsubishi Gas Chemical and other companies sued by Kaneka did not infringe on Kaneka’s 2010 process patent for manufacturing the coenzyme.

Coenzymes are a growth market, driven by concern over heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and lung disease. Coenzyme Q10 has also surfaced as a potential treatment for long COVID, but a 121-​ person study in Denmark found that a 6-week regimen of the enzyme did not significantly improve fatigue levels when compared to a placebo.

Global Market Insights, a market research firm, says the CoQ10 market was worth $575 million in 2020 and predicts 10.5% compound annual growth between 2021 and 2027.



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