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Milliken filing infringement suits

By: Frank Esposito

May 17, 2013

SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- Specialty chemicals and textiles maker Milliken & Co. has filed lawsuits against several Asian competitors, claiming they have infringed on intellectual property for Millad-brand clarifying agents.

Millad materials often are used with polypropylene resins. In a May 15 news release, officials with Spartanburg, S.C.-based Milliken said they believe firms named in the suits have infringed on one or more of Milliken's patents through the sale of competing products.

Milliken is declining to name the companies they have filed against.

In a May 17 phone interview, Millad product line manager Win Van de Velde said all of the suits have been filed in Asia, and Milliken expects to have filed suit against a total of five competitors by the end of the year.

"We spend a lot on research and development, and we want to see a return on that," he said.

"When we see a party violating our intellectual property, we will always take action."

In the release, Van de Velde said Milliken's customers "need to be aware of this IP infringement."

"We believe our customers respect the intellectual property rights of others just as Milliken does," he added. "And we are confident they do not wish to use products from companies that have engaged in patent infringement."

Milliken is seeking to make those firms stop production of the materials. The firm also is seeking an unspecified amount of financial damages. Some of the alleged infringing activity dates back several years, according to Van de Velde.

New grades of Millad can offer glasslike clarity in PP, officials said. They allow PP to be used in place of other resins such as polystyrene and polycarbonate, they added. PP's lower density results in a more sustainable product with a lower carbon footprint, officials said.

Milliken makes Millad at several sites in South Carolina. The firm ranks as one of the world's largest privately held chemicals and textiles makers, with sales estimated at more than $3 billion.