Dow Chemical has lost the patent lawsuit it filed in 2009 in Seoul, South Korea, against LG Chem. Dow claimed that the Korean firm had violated its intellectual property rights on metallocene catalyst technology for producing ethylene-based elastomers.
Dow is preparing to appeal the court’s ruling that its claim has no legal basis. “Dow believes that the district court’s decision is improper,” a company statement says. Prior to this judgment, the statement adds, “Dow’s patents were held valid by the Intellectual Property Tribunal of the Korean Intellectual Property Office.”
LG Chem counters that it developed the technology on its own in 1999. The Korean firm opened a 90,000-metric-ton-per-year plant making use of the process in 2008.
Chemical companies have fought several legal battles over metallocene catalyst technology in recent years. Although the market for resins made with the catalysts is not yet huge, it is growing quickly, according to Juay Piu Nah, a polyolefins industry consultant at IHS Chemical in Singapore. “If you can hold on to your technology, you can be a player in the long run,” he says.
At a catalyst conference sponsored by Chemical Market Resources in Shanghai last year, Director of Client Services J. N. Swamy said South Korean chemical makers are eager to differentiate themselves with unique technologies. “They have very advanced R&D centers in Korea because the companies are under so much competitive pressure,” he observed.