Gas-assisted molding supplier Cinpres Gas Injection Ltd. is claiming a big victory in Europe over arch-rival Gain Technologies Inc. and Michael Ladney - as the European Patent Office in Munich, Germany, revoked the Melea ``overflow well'' patent on prior-art grounds.
The prior art includes a newly unearthed French patent from 1956, which was sent to Cinpres anonymously, Cinpres said.
Cinpres, based in Middlewich, England, said the patent office ruling came down at a hearing Sept. 24. Steve Jordan, a Cinpres director, called the decision ``a major victory'' for Cinpres and molders that license its technology, called the plastic expulsion process or PEP.
Gain officials said Oct. 3 that they plan to appeal the ruling.
The Cinpres/PEP vs. Gain/overflow controversy has shaped up as the key patent battleground between Cinpres and Ladney-affiliated companies Gain Technologies, Plastic Molded Technologies Inc. and Melea Ltd., the Gibraltar firm that holds the patents.
``It has been a long, hard battle in establishing that Melea's overflow patent should never have been granted or applied for by Mr. Ladney,'' Jordan said.
According to Cinpres Chairman Terry Pearson, Cinpres brought two pieces of prior art to the attention of the European Patent Office. One was a Japanese patent that was filed in 1973, but never was issued. The other was the French patent. Pearson said he does now know who forwarded the little-known, 47-year-old French patent to his company.
Cinpres said that the patent office revoked the patent despite attempts by Melea lawyers to modify some claims in a bid to overcome the prior art.
According to Cinpres, in August, Melea proposed a restricting amendment to distinguish overflow wells from the French patent. But that amendment was not allowed under the European Patent Office rules.
The European decision is not expected to have any direct impact on the patent battle in the United States. But Pearson said Cinpres now plans to ask the German Regional Court in Dusseldorf to suspend a patent infringement complaint that Melea filed there against Cinpres earlier this year.