US Celanese loses patent suit against broker

04 April 2008 19:35  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS news)--US acetic-acid producer Celanese lost on Friday a patent-infringement suit that it filed against the product distributor Oxyde Chemicals.

Celanese sued Oxyde in September. Celanese alleged that Oxyde had infringed on its acetic-acid patent through its role in brokering a shipment of the product to Mexico from China.

En route, the shipment stopped over in Houston, bringing the suit under US jurisdiction.

Celanese alleged that a Chinese producer, Jiangsu Sopo, made the acetic acid by infringing on the company's patent.

Even though Oxyde did not produce the acetic acid, Celanese said that US patent law held the broker liable for patent infringement.

To prevail, Celanese needed to prove that - prior to the shipment's arrival to Houston - Oxyde had knowledge that the acetic acid was produced through an alleged patent infringement, according to an order by US Judge Nancy Atlas.

Although Oxyde received a notice from Celanese, Atlas ruled that a notice does not necessarily constitute knowledge.

A notice could mean simply the receipt of a written document, Atlas said. Receiving a document is different from having knowledge of the document's contents.

As such, Atlas said she found no evidence demonstrating Oxyde's knowledge of any patent infringement prior to the shipment's arrival in the US. As a result, she ruled in favour of Oxyde.

Oxyde had filed a countersuit, accusing Celanese of improperly interfering with an existing contract. The countersuit is pending.

Celanese would issue only a general statement, saying that the company takes its technology claims very seriously.

Celanese would offer no other comments since the countersuit is still pending.

Oxyde said it plans to issue a statement on Monday.

By: Al Greenwood
+1 713 525 2645

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