future of protein production with plates with healthy food and protein

Vow Foods responds to Paleo plans to consider legal action over mammoth meatball

April 3, 2023

This story just rolls on and on. As almost everybody in the world by now knows, a giant meatball made from flesh cultivated using the DNA of an extinct woolly mammoth was unveiled on Tuesday 28 March 2023 at Nemo, the science museum in the Netherlands.

The meatball was created by Australian cultured meat company Vow Foods, which said it wanted to get people talking about cultured meat, calling it a more sustainable alternative for real meat. A few days later, on 31 March, a press release was issued by the Belgium startup, Paleo, which stated it was considering legal action against Vow for passing the mammoth meatball as its own invention, "knowing that the technology (mammoth myoglobin) was developed two years ago by Paleo, with patent applications ongoing".

“When we learned about the event, we were surprised," said Hermes Sanctorum, CEO of Paleo in the statement. "We sent out a press release nine months ago to announce that we developed the exact same mammoth protein (myoglobin), based on our fundamental research and innovation."

Now, Vow has issued a response to those allegations, which appears below in full.

"Vow is familiar with Paleo's allegations in relation to the recent 'mammoth meatball' event and would like to respond with some important clarifications.

"The technology and innovation involved in Vow’s creation and presentation of the 'mammoth meatball' owes nothing to any technology or alleged invention by Paleo. The 'mammoth meatball' was conceived, developed and created entirely by the hard work and ingenuity of Vow’s own scientists [and collaborators] and using a combination of publicly available genetic data and Vow’s own proprietary production processes.

"Rightly, there is no suggestion by Paleo that Vow has done anything other than adopt the idea of creating something that involves the use of mammoth myoglobin protein. But Paleo has no basis to claim that simple idea as their own and to seek to exclude others and chill innovation and inspiration in the nascent cultured meat field on that basis.

"Patent rights exist in order to protect innovation and can (if granted and valid) protect truly new, innovative and proprietary ideas; but Paleo does not have any such patent rights. Paleo has no granted patent in relation to mammoth myoglobin and therefore has no legitimate claim. What Paleo has is a pending application for an extremely broad patent which, if valid and granted, would prevent companies from using animal myoglobin from a wide range of animals (including pig, sheep, cow, chicken and tuna, in addition to mammoth) as a meat substitute or food ingredient.

"In short, the patent application is an attempted 'landgrab' of outrageous proportions that extends to ideas and products that (like Vow’s 'mammoth meatball') owe nothing at all to any alleged innovation or work done by Paleo and which has already been found by an examiner at the European Patent Office to be very likely be invalid.

"Vow’s intention for the event at which the mammoth meatball was presented was to encourage discussion around the future of food, and to grow mainstream awareness around cultured meat and other alternatives – to the benefit of the food industry as a whole. The positive reaction to the event and the lively discussion that has ensued suggest that goal was achieved – to the benefit of all. Therefore, at a time of opportunity for the industry to come together and collectively and constructively further conversations about the future of food, it is disappointing to see Paleo instead attempting to assert non-existent rights to intellectual property in this way and generally making broad and unspecified threats of legal action, which will only serve to block important discussions in the field.

"Vow is not afraid of difficult conversations or controversy, nor of standing up for the hard work and wholly independent innovation of its people. Paleo’s threats and allegations are baseless and Vow will take the appropriate steps to safeguard its reputation, its innovations and its people. At the same time, Vow remains committed to supporting efforts to raise the profile of and educate the public as to the potential and possibilities of cultured meat and alternative protein, including through events which raise the awareness and credibility of alternative ways of providing food for a rapidly growing population."

If you have any questions or would like to get in touch with us, please email info@futureofproteinproduction.com

About the Speaker

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

Every week, you’ll receive a compilation of the latest breakthroughs from the global alternative proteins sector, covering plant-based, fermentation-derived and cultivated proteins.
By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. View our Privacy Policy for more information.