WASHINGTON (May 21, 2008) — Flexsys America L.P. has filed a second, more sweeping patent infringement case with the International Trade Commission involving the alleged unauthorized manufacture of its patented rubber antidegradants in Asia.
Meanwhile, the chemical maker continues to pursue its earlier patent infringement complaint, as well as a lawsuit against the alleged responsible companies.
Flexsys filed a complaint May 12 against Chinese chemical firm Sinor-gchem Co. Shandong and the South Korean companies Korea Kumho Petrochemical Co. Ltd., Kumho Tire Co. Ltd. and Kumho Tire USA Inc.
The complaint covers much of the same ground as the complaint Flexsys filed with the ITC early in 2005. That action accused Sinorgchem of making the antidegradant 6PPD and its feedstock, 4-ADPA, without Flexsys´ license or permission, and its U.S. sales agent, Sovereign Chemical Co., of marketing the unauthorized chemicals in the U.S.
Flexsys asked the ITC to ban sales of Sinorgchem´s 6PPD and 4-ADPA in the U.S. The ITC did so in July 2006, but a three-judge panel in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal District reversed and remanded that order by a 2-1 vote in December 2007. In April 2008 the appeals court denied Flexsys´ petition for a rehearing before the entire 11-judge panel and confirmed the earlier judgment the same month.
The new complaint has significant differences to the earlier case and is much broader, according to a spokesman for Solutia Inc., Flexsys´ St. Louis, Mo.-based parent firm.
Besides broadening the list of respondents, the new complaint uses different language to describe the processes involved, in response to the appeals court ruling, the spokesman said. It broadens its patent claims to include the chemical intermediates used to make 4-ADPA, he said. It also seeks to bar the U.S. sale of not only the chemicals and intermediates, but also tires made with them.
In addition to the new complaint, Flexsys continues to appeal the earlier complaint before the ITC. The exclusion order against Sinorgchem 6PPD and 4-ADPA continues during that process, according to a Solutia press release. A civil patent infringement case against the four defendants in the new complaint also is pending before the Cleveland federal district court, Solutia said.
Manni Li, an attorney for Perkins Cole L.L.P. in Los Angeles that is representing Sinorgchem, said her firm still is studying the new complaint. In a press release issued three days before the new complaint was filed, Perkins Cole said Sinorgchem looked forward to having the exclusion order lifted.
"As the competition among rubber chemical manufacturers gets more and more fierce, Sinorgchem believes that fair competition in the marketplace will stimulate technology advancement and benefit the consumers," the release said.
Officials of Kumho Tire USA Inc. could not be reached for comment.