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Impossible Foods, the plant-based meat giant, is in a legal battle with a Boston-based startup, Motif FoodWorks Inc., over its patent ingredients, including heme.

Source: Impossible Foods/Youtube

Back in 2016, Impossible Foods, the Silicon Valley-based company, changed the meat-alternative market forever with its plant-based burgers that look, taste, and smell just like cow meat.

In March, Impossible Foods sued Motif FoodWorks Inc. for creating a meat alternative that “too closely resembles Impossible’s patented version.”

“We applaud other companies’ efforts to develop compelling plant-based products,” Impossible Foods spokesperson Keely Sulprizio told BizJournals. “But we do not tolerate attempts to undermine our brand or products through the deliberate and unauthorized infringement of our intellectual property.”

Heme is the ingredient at the center of this battle. Heme can be found in the root of many legumes, and it is used to make the ‘bloody’ appearance in the fake meat. It also gives the patties the unique meat taste.

Motif then fought back and filed a petition with the United States Patent and Trademark Office to challenge the legitimacy of Impossible’s patent. Motif says that the organization should have never issued the patent to Impossible Foods, to begin with.

“Impossible did not invent heme – it exists in animal muscle tissues and plants that people eat every day,” said Julia Dacri of Motif to BizJournals. “It’s our hope that the USPTO will reject and revoke Impossible Foods’ patent.”

Impossible Foods claims that the start-up is unlawfully using its technology to build its business. But it seems like Motif isn’t going out without a fight.

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

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