CINCINNATI — Milacron Inc. is suing another competitor over patents it holds for personal-computer-based machine controls — but this time Milacron got sued first.
North Branch, N.J.-based Sig Plastics Technologies (USA) Inc., the former Krupp blow molding machinery business, filed a lawsuit Jan. 23 against Milacron in U.S. District Court in Trenton, N.J. Sig said it acted "in response to Milacron's threats to sue Sig and its affiliates" for allegedly infringing on the U.S. patent held by Milacron, No. 5,062,052.
Three weeks later, on Feb. 16, Cincinnati-based Milacron filed suit against Sig in U.S. District Court in Dayton, Ohio.
Last year, Milacron filed patent-infringement lawsuits against injection press makers Ube Machinery Inc. and Husky Injection Molding Systems Ltd., citing its patent on PC-based controls. Both competitors ended up settling with Milacron for undisclosed terms.
On March 16, Sig and Milacron fired off dueling news releases over the patent dispute.
Werner Fillmann, chief executive officer of Sig's plastics business, said: "Unfortunately, Sig has been forced to take this action in light of Milacron's unwillingness to consider seriously Sig's evidence [of] why it does not infringe the patent, and why, for a host of documented reasons, Milacron's patent is believed to be invalid."
Milacron's news release quoted Harold Faig, group vice president of its Plastics Technologies Group in Batavia, Ohio.
"We were forced to take this action, as our good-faith discussions to reach a mutually agreeable settlement with Sig have broken down. In our opinion, Sig's sale of infringing systems is clearly a direct violation of our highly valued patented technology, and we are committed to actively protecting our intellectual property in every way possible," Faig said.
In its legal tussles with Ube and Husky, Milacron used the tactic of asking the U.S. International Trade Commission to bar imports of those machines into the United States. Faig said Milacron is ready to make a similar request against Sig.
Sig Plastics Technologies (USA) has been assembling blow molding machines in New Jersey since 1998. Its Swiss-based parent company, Sig Group, also has blow molding machinery plants in Germany.
Milacron wants Sig to take out a license, but Sig has refused.