12 November 2010

Bioplastics firms settle seven-year patent fight

The agreement between the two companies does not restrict BIOP from marketing its Biopar production technologies

Italian bioplastics producer Novamont and German bioplastics technology company BIOP Biopolymer Technologies have reached a settlement agreement in a seven-year patent dispute.

The dispute dates back to 2003, when Novamont sued BIOP alleging that the German firm’s Biopar biopolymer manufacturing process infringed three of its European patents. BIOP responded by filing nullity claims and last year obtained a ruling of invalidity from the Munich patent court on one of the patents involved – EP0327505.

“From the beginning we were convinced not to infringe any patents,” said Ulrich Rienth, a member of the BIOP board. “We are very pleased now to have achieved a mutual agreement.”

The agreement between the two companies does not restrict BIOP from marketing its Biopar production technologies, according to Rienth.

Earlier this year Novamont suffered a patent set-back in the French court when its claim of infringement against French films group Sphere and German bioplastics producer Biotec were not upheld.

Novamont’s claim against the two companies went back to 2007 and alleged infringement of three patents relating to production of polymer compositions containing thermoplastic starches – EP0327505 (also involved in the BIOP case), EP0937120 and EP0947559.

Novamont is one of the world’s leading producers of bioplastics materials with a claimed annual capacity of 80,000 tonnes. Established in 1990, its expertise grew out of the Fertec biomaterials research facility set up by Montedison and agro-products maker Ferruzi in 1989, expanded through the acquisition of the bioplastics IP of Warner-Lambert in 1997 and the Eastar Bio patents of Eastman in 2004.

Orignally set up to manufacture bioplastics, BIOP changed its strategy to licensing its Biopar technology to third parties last year. The company claims that its bi-continuous-phase technology allows production of a range of potato-starch based polymer blends that can be used in place of PE in applications such as bags and wrap.

Source: EuropeanPlasticsNews, 2010-11-12.

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