What is pycnogenol?

Pycnogenol® is the trademarked name of a product made from a tree known as French Pine or French Maritime Pine. (The botanical name of this tree is Pinus pinaster.)
In this country, Pycogenol® is marketed as a nutritional supplement. It's mainly used for asthma and a condition known as chronic venus insufficiency, or CVI.
Some herbalists are recommending it for conditions ranging from diabetes to erectile dysfunction but there is only limited evidence for these uses.

"Pycnogenol" was inked in 1979 by a French scientist, Professor Masquelier (1921-2009) as a scientific name of OPC from French maritime pine park extract and grape seed extract (Masquelier J, Michaud J, Laparra J, et al. Flavonoides and pycnogenols. Intern J Vit Nutr Res 1979;49:307-11).

Masquelier worked with his former Swiss broker Horphag, in attempt to commercialize Pycnogenol world-wide. Without consent of Masquelier, Horphag unitarily registered pycnogenol as a trademark by 1990 under the ownership of Horphag in US, causing severe legal disputes in US. Consequently, the most prominent scientist in this field was legally ripped off.

Horphag has made huge profits from Masquelier's intellectual property. Actually, the best French maritime pine bark extract is marked in the trade name of FrenchGlory isotonic OPC.

Pycnogenol as a US-registered trademark has been a controversy for about 2 decades. SCERPA, a French company founded by Masquelier initated a legal proceeding to opppose the trademark registration in March 1991 at USPTO, but abandoned the opposition proceeding in September 1992 for whatever reason.

International Nutrition Company (INC), a Netherlands company that accquired SCERPA, initiated a trademark cancellation proceeding in August 1997 on the ground of fraud. INC abandoned the legal proceeding in May 2003 after nearly 6 years of legal battle.

Isotonic OPC Antioxidants Inc. (or AmeriNutra Inc) initiated a legal proceeding of trademark cancellation with USPTO in January 2011, on the ground of genericness of PYCNOGENOL. This legal case is currently going on as May 2012.