ISELIN, N.J.—Protective product manufacturers Ansell Ltd. and Reckitt Benckiser L.L.C. are heading to court again, this time in England.
Two wholly owned subsidiaries of Ansell have filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Reckitt Benckiser Healthcare (U.K.) Ltd., a subsidiary Reckitt Benckiser.
It's the third suit Ansell has filed against Reckitt Benckiser alleging patent infringement during the last three years. The others are moving through courts in the U.S. and Australia.
This time around, Ansell Healthcare Products L.L.C. and Ansell (U.K.) Ltd. filed an infringement lawsuit in the High Court in London against Reckitt Benckiser (U.K.) Ltd. for the distribution of Durex RealFree condoms, produced at a Reckitt Benckiser factory in Thailand and distributed in the United Kingdom by Reckitt Benckiser (U.K.), an Ansell spokesman said.
The latest action alleges infringement of Ansell's European Patent No. 2 280618, entitled "Dip-formed Synthetic Polyisoprene Latex Articles with Improved Intraparticle and Interparticle Crosslinks."
Represented by Kempner and Partners L.L.P. in the latest suit, the global protection products maker maintained it filed the action as part of its global strategy to protect its SKYN condom line.
In the event Ansell is successful in proving its patent is infringed by Reckitt Benckiser, the spokesman said, the company is requesting for the court in London to award both a permanent halt to the sale of RealFeel condoms and damages in the form of compensation for past sales of the condom.
Basically, the firm is looking to stop the importation of RealFeel products into the U.K.; selling, supplying or disposing of the products in the U.K.; and offering to sell, supply or dispose the condoms in the U.K.
Ansell—which is based globally in Richmond, Australia, and in Iselin in the U.S.—did not request a preliminary injunction in any of its lawsuits. The spokesman said the company primarily wants to protect its intellectual property, as necessary, in all locations where the firm can enforce its rights.
"Ansell's patented SKYN brand polyisoprene condom is the world's No. 1 and fastest growing non-latex condom," according to Bill Reilly, senior vice president and corporate general counsel at Ansell.
He said that SKYN condoms have a superior feel to others on the market "and provide an exceptionally strong health care barrier. Ansell has broad coverage in the U.S., Europe, Australia, China, Israel, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia and South Africa, with coverage pending in Brazil, India and South Korea.
"Ansell has been battling Reckitt Benckiser for over two years now to stop its unauthorized infringement of Ansell's highly valuable IP (intellectual property). Ansell seeks only to stop the infringement and obtain whatever recompense the courts deem reasonable."
Reilly said that the company has made significant research and development investments in the SKYN product line technology and related patents, and the lawsuits seek to protect those investments.
Slough, England-based Reckitt Benckiser did not respond to requests for comments on the lawsuits.
SKYN and RealFree are both manufactured using polyisoprene, the spokesman noted. "The patent protects the unique structure of Ansell's non-latex condom material."
Ansell's first patent infringement lawsuit against Reckitt Benckiser—specifically naming subsidiary Reckitt Benckiser (Australia) Pty. Ltd.—was filed in November 2014 in the New South Wales District Registry of the Federal Court of Australia.
A trial was held in December and the spokesman said a decision by the court is likely in the next few months.
In October 2015, the company filed a second patent infringement lawsuit against Reckitt Benckiser, this one in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware for the distribution of Durex RealFeel condoms.
It alleged that the condom infringed several patents. A trial on the suit is scheduled for February 2018, the spokesman said.