Issue Date: August 25, 2008
Invista Sues Rhodia, DuPont
CHEMICAL AND FIBER MAKER Invista is once again suing its rivals. It is taking Rhodia and DuPont to court over what it calls a conspiracy to steal its trade secrets for manufacturing the nylon 6,6 intermediate adiponitrile.
Adiponitrile is used to make hexamethylenediamine, a raw material for nylon 6,6. Invista says it is the world's largest producer of the chemical. Dupont purchases its adiponitrile from Invista for its nylon 6,6 engineering polymers business.
Both Invista and Rhodia are planning adiponitrile plants in Asia. Invista is building one in Shanghai as part of an integrated nylon 6,6 complex. Rhodia has been studying the feasibility of a plant in Asia and is building a downstream hexamethylenediamine plant in China.
Invista states in the suit filed in New York City that Rhodia plans to use Invista's Gen 1 technology for making adiponitrile from butadiene at the plant it is planning. The technology was part of Koch Industries' 2004 purchase of Invista from DuPont for $4.2 billion.
Invista says Rhodia pilfered the technology via their Butachimie joint venture in France. Invista argues that Rhodia must be planning on using its technology illicitly because it is not a licensee of another butadiene-based adiponitrile technology, nor has it had the time to develop its own.
Invista says DuPont intends to invest in Rhodia's adiponitrile plant and is "generally advising Rhodia in its effort to design, construct, and operate" the adiponitrile plant using its technology.
Invista is seeking to prevent Rhodia and DuPont from using the technology, as well as unspecified damages.
Rhodia says Invista's case is without merit. In a statement, the company said the suit "forms part of Invista's attempts to prevent Rhodia from challenging Invista's dominant market position in polyamides." The company notes that Invista withdrew a suit against it concerning the technology in Texas.
Invista has sued its former owner before. It has an $800 million suit against DuPont to recover costs it is incurring to fix environmental and safety problems at the former DuPont plants that it purchased.
DuPont says that the new suit has no factual basis and that the company respects the intellectual property rights of others. However, DuPont doesn't deny that it is considering an investment in the Rhodia plant. "DuPont continues to evaluate a variety of options," spokesman Daniel A. Turner tells C&EN.
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