Middlewich, England-based Cinpres Gas Injection Ltd. has won an appeal in a British court giving it ownership of the so-called European overflow gas molding patent.
The decision, published Jan. 24, overturns a 2006 court finding assigning ownership of European patent (UK) No. 0,424,435 to a competitor, Gibraltar-based Melea Ltd.
Melea holds the patents relating to gas injection molding technologies marketed by Sterling Heights, Mich.-based Gain Technologies Inc. In its decision statement, the appeals judges described Melea as ``a vehicle'' for former Gain Technologies' President Michael Ladney.
Ladney was not available for comment.
Cinpres and Melea have been disputing ownership of the overflow molding process - which involves the use of a second ``overspill'' to ease filling of large gas-assisted molding parts - for 16 years.
Cinpres Chairman Merrick Taylor said: ``Innovative companies shouldn't have to fight this hard to protect their rights against people like Ladney.''
As a consequence of the duration of the dispute, Cinpres is unlikely to make much use of its newly acquired patent, which expires in July.
And the decision does not automatically flow through to the European Patent Office records, which list Melea as patent owner. Even so, Cinpres sees this as a major victory.
Cinpres Managing Director Jon Butler said: ``It's clear from our legal team that the intellectual property belongs to Cinpres, but how they can go forward to transfer ownership will depend on what steps are needed [in the EPO system].''
Butler said Ladney could make an application to appeal the decision in the United Kingdom's House of Lords.
Butler would not disclose the cost of its lengthy dispute, but said it has ``taken a toll on our financial position.'' Part of the $11.8 million cash injection into the company announced this week by Cinpres' parent, BI Group, will be used to ease that position.
Meanwhile, Melea continues to contest both the European and U.S. versions of the Cinpres plastics expulsion process patents. This is, essentially, a more advanced version of overspill molding using valves to control opening of the secondary cavity.
Butler said a hearing is scheduled for March.