Ethox sues Coke over barrier PET

Published: July 18, 2012 6:00 am ET

Related to this story

Topics Materials, Packaging, Blow Molding, Design

GREENVILLE, S.C. (July 18, 7:30 a.m. ET) — Ethox Chemicals LLC is suing Coca-Cola Co. for patent infringement, claiming that the beverage giant stole a molecule, PEM, designed to enhance the barrier properties of PET.

Ethox, a division of chemical manufacturer Piedmont Chemicals Inc., says that its molecule bis(2-phenoxyethyl)terephthalate, or PEM, can be used as a PET additive to reduce permeation, extend shelf-life and allow beer to be sold in plastic bottles.

In a suit filed June 19 with the U.S. District Court in Greenville, S.C., Ethox argues that Coke filed patents for two containers containing the additive, despite knowing that it had no rights to the molecule.

In its patent application, Coke neglected to name the additive’s inventor, Ethox senior research chemist James Tanner, with the “intent of misappropriating the PEM molecule for its own use,” the suit alleges.

According to the filing, Coke approached Ethox and research firm PolyTech Resources LLC in early 2009 about developing and assessing a genus of molecules designed to enhance the barrier properties of plastic bottles.

In August 2009, Tanner determined that commercially synthesizing Coke’s patented additive, bis(2-benzoyloxy)ethyl terephthalate or BPO1, was not economically feasible. In an email to T. Edwin Freeman, a member of Coke’s global innovation and research group, Tanner proposed the recently-developed PEM as an alternative.

Freeman expressed interest in the molecule and asked Ethox to send Coke a high-purity sample for testing. From September to November 2009, the parties corresponded about the material — at Freeman’s request, Ethox sent Coke two samples of PEM and offered estimated per-pound pricing.

“Upon information and belief, after Coca-Cola became aware of the unique and innovative qualities of PEM, Coca-Cola, by its representatives, decided to steal PEM for its own,” Ethox’s attorney wrote in the filing.

On Dec. 2, 2009, Coke filed two patents for polyester containers with enhanced gas-barrier properties. Both patents identified and claimed PEM, according to the suit.

In the suit, Ethox argues that Coke committed fraud and misappropriated trade secrets, among other charges.

The suit also claims that Coke violated the South Carolina Unfair Trade Practices Act.

The two parties attempted to settle the dispute out of court, but were unable to reach an agreement, said Philip Hirschhorn, an attorney for Ethox.

“We’re very surprised that a company like Coca-Cola would engage in the theft of a molecule of one of the companies that it’s working with,” he said. “I’d like to hope it’s an accident, but because of the circumstances it appears it’s not. It appears there’s intent behind it and that’s why a lawsuit had to be brought.”

Greenville-based Ethox is asking the court to require that Coke amend the patent to list Tanner as a co-inventor. The firm also is asking Coke to pay actual and exemplary damages, including the disgorgement of profits made from using PEM, and Ethox is seeking an injunction barring Coke from making, using, selling or importing PEM and other Ethox trade secrets.

Ethox has requested a jury trial.

On July 13, Coke was granted a 31-day extension. The Atlanta-based company has until Aug. 13 to respond to the suit.


Comments

Ethox sues Coke over barrier PET

Published: July 18, 2012 6:00 am ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

Netstal, Electra Form team up for PET preform partnership

November 20, 2014 3:15 pm ET

The Netstal division of Krauss-Maffei Corp. is teaming up with Electra Form Industries in a partnership to offer PET preform machines and molds as a...    More

Image

PET film maker Evertis expanding production in Mexico, Brazil, Portugal

November 20, 2014 2:52 pm ET

Evertis, a PET film maker, is expanding production at plants in Mexico, Brazil and Portugal, the company said.    More

Image

Coveris changes culture, eyes IPO

November 20, 2014 1:40 pm ET

CEO Gary Masse has a simple message, and some new math, for everyone at Coveris Holdings Corp. Get on board or get out of the way.    More

Image

Total to buy majority stake in Polyblend

November 20, 2014 10:04 am ET

French oil and gas giant Total SA will buy a 68 percent stake in Germany's Polyblend GmbH, a subsidiary of Polymer-Chemie GmbH.    More

Image

Cy Plastics invests in machinery, space

November 19, 2014 2:17 pm ET

Seeking a more efficient configuration, custom molder Cy Plastics Inc. invested over $500,000 in the past year, adding more machinery including a 350-...    More

Market Reports

Plastics in Brazil - State of the Industry Report

This in-depth report examines the Brazilian plastics industry from a historical and geographical context. Our analysts provide insight on economic trends and forecasts, growing manufacturing sectors that utilize plastics, private investment opportunities, market environment challenges, and innovations in R&D.

Data tables and charts on producer prices, trade, plastics production and end market indicators is also included.

Learn more

Plastics Recycling Trends in North America

This report is a review and analysis of the North American Plastics Recycling Industry, including key trends and statistics based on 2013 performance. We examine market environment factors, regulatory issues, industry challenges, key drivers and emerging trends in post-consumer and post-industrial recycling.

Learn more

Injection Molders Market Report & Ranking 2014

This special package contains our 132-page 2014 Market Report on the Injection Molding segment and our exclusive 2014 RANKINGS database of 500+ Injection Molders for a discounted package price.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

June 2, 2015 - June 3, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - Chicago 2015

September 16, 2015 - September 18, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

October 27, 2015 - October 29, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - New York - 2015

More Events