A federal judge has ruled Exxon Chemical Co. failed to prove Dow Chemical Co. and DuPont Dow Elastomers LLC infringed on its metallocene catalyst technology as it had claimed in a lawsuit.
Exxon of Houston had sought an injunction and damages against Dow of Midland, Mich., and DuPont Dow of Wilmington, Del., in a 1997 suit filed in U.S. District Court in Beaumont, Texas.
``This decision confirms that Dow's Insite technology makes improved polymers with a better and unique process,'' Dow's Ed Gambrell said in a news release. Gambrell is global vice president of the firm's Insite technology.
Exxon spokeswoman Charlotte Howard said Exxon would seek to have the ruling set aside. If the court declines to do so, Exxon will appeal the decision.
``We remain convinced that Dow and DuPont Dow infringed on our metallocene catalyst patent,'' she said.
Dow and Exxon are battling for the top spot in metallocene technology, which improves the performance of commodity resins such as polyethylene. Dow is marketing Elite-brand polyethylenes made with its Insite technology, while Exxon has touted its Exceed-brand PE, made through Exxpol technology, which was developed jointly by Exxon and Union Carbide of Danbury, Conn.
Exxon and Dow each produces between 125 million and 175 million pounds of metallocene PE annually, according to industry sources.
Gambrell said Exxon's suit has not delayed or postponed any of Dow's metallocene efforts.
``The decision is really having no direct impact other than taking away a threat to our right to operate,'' he said by telephone.
The decision, announced Sept. 4, has no connection to two suits Dow filed in U.S. District Court in Wilmington in July against Exxon and Univation Technologies, the Exxon-Carbide partnership. One claims Exxon's metallocene PE production in Geleen, Netherlands, violates Dow metallocene patents; the other aims to stop Exxon from making metallocene catalyst and PE at its Mont Belvieu, Texas, plant later this year.