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Court ruling may reactivate suit over oxygen scavengers in PET

Published on 2002-12-02. Author : SpecialChem

PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 2 -- A federal court has ruled that a license to a patented oxygen scavenging technology awarded by Crown Cork & Seal Technologies Corp. to Chevron Phillips Chemical Co. does not cover certain applications of the technology by one of Chevron's sub-licensees. The ruling would allow an earlier suit for patent infringement by Crown against the sub-licensee, Continental PET Technologies, to go forward. (That suit had been stayed until the court clarified the scope of licensing rights awarded by Crown to Chevron.)

The technology at issue in the case, known as Oxbar, is now owned by Crown's subsidiary Constar International, a PET packaging producer that went public earlier this month. The Oxbar system incorporates a cobalt-based oxygen absorbing layer sandwiched between two PET layers. It is said to boost the shelf life of packaged foods and beverages and is used to manufacture PET bottles for oxygen-sensitive products such as beer, juices, and tea.

Last week, the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware ruled that the Oxbar oxygen scavenging system used by Continental PET in its PET bottles is not covered by the licensing agreement between Crown and Chevron. Unless Chevron appeals the ruling, says Constar, it has the right to resume its suit against Continental PET.

Chevron Phillips says that it is "reviewing the court's opinion and considering whether to appeal the ruling." The company adds that the decision "should have no effect" on its other businesses that use proprietary oxygen scavenging polymers. Continental PET, meanwhile, declines to comment on the Delaware court's ruling except to claim that it is not directly involved in the case. The new decision, says a spokeswoman for the company, "interpreted the license between Crown and Chevron; the case was not about whether Continental PET infringed on the [Oxbar] patent."

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