MILAN, ITALY — Novamont SpA, an Italian firm working to promote its biodegradable plastics in North America, has purchased several starch-based thermoplastic patents as part of bankruptcy proceedings against Novon International Inc. of Tonawanda, N.Y.
The patents were owned by Warner-Lambert Co., a Morris Plains, N.J., pharmaceutical firm that held the patents jointly with Milan-based Novamont before selling them to Novon.
The sale was approved Dec. 19 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Buffalo, N.Y. Novon filed for protection under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in November 1996.
``I am happy to have in our hands all the basic patents and patent applications for starch-based materials,'' Novamont President Umberto Colombo said in a news release. ``We will continue to pursue any and all patent infringers in order to ensure maximum shareholder value from this technology.''
The patents are used in the manufacture of Mater-Bi, a biodegradable and compostable thermoplastic material that degrades fully in a normal composting cycle.
Mater-Bi has found uses in composting bags where it performs like low density polyethylene but degrades like paper, company officials said. The bags are used in 500 European municipalities as well as in more than 50 U.S. and Canadian communities.
In North America, Mater-Bi is distributed by Biocorp of Redondo Beach, Calif., which uses the material to manufacture reSource-brand biodegradable bags, cutlery, cups and plates.
Biocorp recently opened several regional offices in the United States and Canada to meet growing demand, said Biocorp Chief Executive Officer Frederic Scheer.