Honeywell International Inc.'s South Korean patent on polyethylene terephthalate tire cord yarn is invalid, meaning Hyosung Corp. may continue to manufacture and import the yarn, the International Trade Commission has ruled.
Honeywell filed its patent infringement action with the ITC in April 2001, seeking a permanent injunction against Hyosung using its PET yarn-making process.
In December, Hyosung filed for summary judgment in the case, with the support of an ITC investigative attorney, but an administrative law judge rejected the motion. The full commission overturned the ALJ's decision May 17.
``We obviously disagree with the decision, and we plan to appeal,'' said a Honeywell spokeswoman at the company's headquarters in Morristown, N.J. She did not know offhand the avenues of appeal at the ITC.
Simultaneously with the ITC petition, Honeywell filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the eastern district of Virginia, seeking not only an injunction against Hyosung but also monetary damages. The Honeywell spokeswoman said she had no word on the disposition of the eastern Virginia case.
By its own testimony, Honeywell has fought for the PET yarn patent in court for almost a decade. The Korean Chemical Fiber Manufacturing Association filed suit in 1988 to have Honeywell's Korean and Japanese PET yarn patents revoked. It won the Korean revocation in November 1999-a decision Hyosung had reaffirmed in a Seoul, South Korea, district court in January 2002-but lost its case before the Japanese Patent Office in October 2000.
Honeywell's patent troubles began in 1993 when the business operated as AlliedSignal Performance Fibers. That year, Rhone-Poulenc S.A. and Hoechst Celanese Corp. filed complaints with the European Patent Opposition Division opposing AlliedSignal's PET yarn patent. AlliedSignal, which merged with Honeywell in December 1999, won the case in 1999.
Hyosung is South Korea's largest synthetic fiber manufacturer, selling an annual rate of $303 million worth of the tire cord alone, according to the ``Korea Herald.'' Honeywell is a $25 billion diversified technology and manufacturing company which makes PET yarn and fabric through its Performance Fibers Division, holding about 20 percent of the worldwide PET fabric market.