Prior-art mycelium materials from 1949


#1

Continuing the discussion from [Wikithon] Intro to Intellectual Property (IP):

I found a German patent that expired from 1993 describing more or less mycelium-materials:
They used other words for basically the same because the glue is phenol oxidizing enzymes, and there is one sentence in the patent describing “phenol oxidizing enzymes, for example, from cultures of white rot fungi”

Or this paper from 1989 explains the proces with Trametes Versicolor

Here are the conclusions of this paper (since it’s behind a paywall).

Conclusions
Fungal phenoloxidase enzymes produced on waste lignin containing effluents were suitable biocomponents in cold-setting and thermosetting lignin-based adhesives. The phenoloxidase-lignin bio-adhesive will be suitable as thermosetting glue in particleboard production if the water resistance of the boards can be increased. Results in this area have already been obtained. The properties of lignin-phenoloxidase-bonded particleboards revealed several advantages compared to synthetic resins:

  1. The lignin phenoloxidase adhesive implies the total utilization of waste lignin, directly as one component of the adhesive and indirectly as nutrient of the phenoloxidase-producing fungus.
  2. The production of enzyme-lignin-bonded particleboard is much less hazardous than the production of isocyanate-bonded particle- board, for example.
  3. The bio-adhesive consists of renewable raw material, so the production does not depend on the oil market.
  4. The phenoloxidase-lignin-bonded particleboards are free of any emission.
  5. The phenoloxidase-lignin adhesive is not only applicable as thermosetting adhesive but also as a cold-curing system.

I even found earlier sources of “myco wood” in the paper Investigation into the biotechnological modification of wood and its application in the wood‐based material industry

As early as 1949, LUTHARDT in co-operation with the Technical University of Dresden has developed a procedure for the modification of beech wood (Fagus silvatica) by mycological delignification. The aim was the improvement of the mechanical working properties of the material. An inoculum of white-rot fungi Pleurotus ostreatus or Trametes versicolor was used as a paste on the front surfaces of 0.4-1.2-m long pieces of round timber. The incubation of wood took place under nonsterile conditions over 3 to 5 months. During this time, the density of wood was reduced as a function of the time to 0.45 to 0.13 g/cm3. Because of this decrease in density and hardness, the “myco wood” was applicable to the pencil production, to the manufacturing of wood forms in the glass industry and to the model construction. In addition, it was also used as a cheap substitute for cedar wood.

Source: LUTHARDT W.: Myko-Holz-Herstellung, Eigenschaften und Venvendung In:Holzzerstörung durch Pilze. Internationales Symposium Eberswalde, 1962. Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 1962.

Obviously, this is prior-art to the Ecovative patents, “their invention” already existed!


#2

Crazy! Can we get a legit patent lawyer to take a look at this?

This would be a sour apple for those in licensing agreement with Ecovative (are there any?)

Though I imagine their patents on mushroom leather, high throughput production methods and whatnot do hold… For now :stuck_out_tongue:


#3

Yes, I believe it’s worth to have a deeper look at it because technically the methods are quite similar, but I have no juridical knowledge. Also, I found other patents in this trend, so it’s quite complex. Do we know a lawyer who would be favourable to look at it?

I’ll also contact the University of Dresden, it seems they are still active in this domain. Hopefully Prof. Luthardt is still alive to talk with him :slight_smile: It’s so funny the same species used in 1949 are still the most used now.

Indeed, myco leather is an other process, but maybe prior-art also exists?


#4

Hi everyone!

Thank you Elise for this valuable piece of information.

As a young material engineer, I want to create a firm dealing with mycelium materials. That’s why Ecovative patents had been a problem for me, even if a recent video from them is kind of encouraging to stop fearing those patents. I asked about it several months ago here.
@Winnie Poncelet I just saw your answer there and I will answer you here.

I recently won a contest for people wanting to create innovative compagnies and a part of the prizes is a paid patent/IP expert that I can consult to know exactly what I can do.
I want to work in a open source way so I will keep you informed on what the expert say and later, when the compagnie will be created, about all my experiences.
If you have questions/information for the expert let me know! I will meet this expert probably in September or later so I have time to gather the maximum of information to help him/her do his/her job.

I already gathered a lot of patents/publications about those materials. Would you guys be interested in the creation of a Zotero group where we can all share such sources of information? By no way it will replace this forum, it’s just more convenient to share with Zotero.


#5

In this video they say nothing that “encourages us to stop fearing about their patents or IP regulation”. I had to laugh because they also say “they don’t want to prevent research”. But even researchers have to sign NDAs to get acces to Ecovative’s data and (I’m citing from the contract):

shall not, and shall direct its employees, directors and agents to not, directly or indirectly, attempt to clone or isolate the strain of mycelium in any of Ecovative’s materials, inventions, products, methods and/or processes. Each Party further agrees that it shall not directly or indirectly seek to challenge the validity or enforceability of any intellectual property rights of the other Party. …agrees not to file a patent application of any kind that relates to mycelium.

I fully understand that they have to do this because of investors, capital, etc… But “IP”-washing (link greenwashing) doesn’t work in this case, either you’re fully open or you’re not.

Yes, I do have a lot of information that I can share with your IP lawyer. Specially, since I don’t have juridical knowledge but all the technical knowledge, we can discuss it together. Send me a PM how you’d like to go further.
My main question: “Are the patents valid or not, knowing there was prior-art”?

Here you can find literature, and share yours. It’s a wiki-page so you can modify it.


#6

Unfortunately, as my experience with Gevers, a lawyer can only give his impression and needs to study all the details of the patents very well, and that is quite costly at 200,- Euro an hour. In the end it would be the court that will decide and that may even be different from area to area, so an American judge may decide different from a European one in exactly the same case. As soon as Ecovative would sue a company for patent infringement, a legal dispute will be started and it may take five to seven years before a final decision is made in the highest court.

The situation is quite complex with patents from Ecovative, Mycoworks and others for specific applications and details really matter. As long little and local companies are small and sympathetic, chances are likely they won’t be sued. If somebody would become a big player, it might be a different story.


#7

Yes, I also don’t think it makes sense to sue for patents since that is way to costly and nobody will gain out of it.
It makes sense to openly collect information and data to make it difficult for them to sue other small or big companies.
One should just be well informed about the possibilities in case he/she wants to develop an economic activity with mycelium materials.