Genencor International, Inc announced today it has acquired an exclusive license to Ecolab Inc's Stone-Eze patents for use throughout Europe. The patents broadly cover processes for producing a stone-washed effect in denim or other cellulosic fabrics using cellulase.

Genencor's patent exclusivity means its cellulase enzymes are the only products licensed for use throughout Europe in the stonewashing process for denim and other cellulosic fabrics. Genencor IndiAge and Primafast cellulase enzymes and enzyme compositions, used to create a stone-washed appearance to cellulosic fabrics or garments, are covered under the agreement.

"We estimate that the world wide market for textile enzymes is in excess of $125m of which the majority is for the cellulase business segment," said Tom Pekich, group vice president of Industrial Chemicals for Genencor. "Acquiring an exclusive license to the European Stone-Eze patents gives us a strategic competitive asset in the textile marketplace."

According to an independent market research study conducted last year by Werner International, over 200 million denim jeans were sold in Europe during 1999. Consumer demand was highest in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom.