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Bee venom patent a first step

If you’re wondering what the buzz is you’ve been hearing around the Parkland, it’s the news that after three years of waiting, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has notified Divine Api-Logics LLC, the maker of Harold’s Famous Bee Cream products, that its utility patent application has finally been approved.

Partners Harold Gallaher and Amanda Hutchings’ utility patent application was titled “Apitherapy Method and Composition,” and according to the pair, covers a matrix system for the transdermal delivery of Apitoxin, or honey bee venom.

According to Hutchings and Gallaher, approval of the patent will give the company freedom to grow its control product lines — Harold’s Famous and The Hive Skin Care Company — as well as eventually expand into the over-the-counter drug market. The patent also grants Divine Api-Logics LLC 20 years of broad legal protections for the pair’s ideas from the initial date of their application, Nov. 18, 2015.

“We actually started research back in early 2013,” Hutchings said. “We’re just thrilled that after years of hard work, research and development our patent was finally granted. It just goes to show that hard work and dedication does actually pay off. With this patent, we are able to start exploring some really exciting ideas for current and future products.

“This was really a very innovative idea that Harold had initially. He came to me and said, ‘I really think there’s some power in this ingredient and I think that we need to tell the world about it.’ I think it’s underutilized. It’s part of the beehive that we really don’t discuss because it’s so hard to get that ingredient from the bee.

“Basically, every ingredient of the hive is good for you and those ingredients are utilized, but bee venom itself really has not been used in the past because it was very difficult to obtain. Some formulations would kill the bee in the process, so we were really not interested in that with the declining bee population.”

Gallaher came up with an idea of creating a transdermal matrix system that could be used for the topical use of bee venom where specific areas of need could be targeted. Calling it “revolutionary,” Hutchings explained that nothing like it had ever been done before.

“There are topical products that just sit on top of the skin, but nothing that really goes deeper into the tissue — and that’s what we’ve done,” she said. “For the last 16 years or so, I’ve been working in the pharmaceutical world. Pharmaceutical compounding is my passion. I love hospice compounding. That’s where I was doing most of my work.”

“Just offering the transdermal method itself was really fascinating to me and that’s why I think Harold latched on. He saw that I had that unique talent and interest, so he thought, ‘Well, let’s combine the two and see what we can come up with.’ So, in the hospice world, we take raw ingredients and we can manipulate those into a transdermal dosage for patients who can’t swallow, or whatever the situation might be.

“We kind of used that same general chemistry idea to make this happen, but what we’re doing is really considered ‘green chemistry.’ We use natural compounds to manipulate other natural compounds instead of synthetic compounds. And so, this is really a rapidly developing process that you’re seeing in front of us. All along, we have known that Harold’s Famous Bee Cream was just a placeholder for something much larger.”

Hutchings explained that the expanding sales of Harold’s Famous Bee Cream products has allowed for extended research into new fields.

“It is wonderful to hear from people who find that our products offer them a better quality of life,” she said. “It’s also wonderful to be leading this type of innovation while maintaining environmental responsibility and bringing awareness to the declining honey bee population. We knew the full scale of what it could do and what the power of bee venom could do, so we’ve been working on a lot of other products.

Now that all is well with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Hutchings and Gallaher admit that waiting for the patent to be approved was sometimes difficult as the pair feared others might steal and use their idea before it was legally protected.

“Unfortunately, we’ve had a few instances of attempts to copy our work,” Hutchings said. “These things happen quite often with pending patents. Someone sees a new, innovative idea or concept and attempts to copy it hoping the patent will not be approved. They sometimes throw large amounts of money and resources at marketing, so it will appear that they are the innovator, hiding the fact that they are riding the coat tails of those who put in the hard work.”

The company had one situation where its box, label and marketing materials were copied almost word for word while other attempts have been more subtle.

“To be quite honest, it’s pretty frustrating. I’ve actually contacted my senator about this very topic. Currently, in respect to the misappropriation or illicit use of trade secrets, the only recourse Missouri business owners have within our state statutes is to file a civil suit or to request a federal investigation. The federal government does consider these acts criminal, however federal investigations take tremendous resources and time.”

Through all of this, Hutchings learned that civil litigation is performed privately behind the closed doors of the courts and are not subject to the state’s Sunshine Law.

“This does nothing but empower these dishonest parties, allowing them to continue their behavior under the cloak of anonymity — which only enables them to seek out more victims,” she said. “In my opinion, the current process does not do enough to protect innovators from this type of behavior and I’ve made it my goal to bring more awareness to this issue.”

Divine Api-Logics LLC has a corporate office in Farmington and a distribution center and research facility in Ste. Genevieve.

“All along, we have known that Harold’s Famous Bee Cream was just a placeholder for something much larger.” — Amanda Hutchings

Harold Gallaher and his partner Amanda Hutchings recently received word that their patent application has been accepted after three years of waiting. The pair believes that the future for their company, Divine Api-Logics LLC, is looking bright as they move into new uses for bee venom.

Harold Gallaher and his partner Amanda Hutchings recently received word that their patent application has been accepted after three years of waiting. The pair believes that the future for their company, Divine Api-Logics LLC, is looking bright as they move into new uses for bee venom.

The distribution center and research facility for Divine Api-Logics LLC is located in Ste. Genevieve. The company's corporate office is in Farmington.

The distribution center and research facility for Divine Api-Logics LLC is located in Ste. Genevieve. The company’s corporate office is in Farmington.

Kevin Jenkins is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3614 or kjenkins@dailyjournalonline.com

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