DuPont Co. has filed an intellectual property lawsuit against Invista, the fibers business it sold to Koch Industries Inc. in 2004.
In the suit filed in U.S. District Court in White Plains, N.Y. officials with Wilmington, Del.-based DuPont claim that Invista is infringing on a DuPont patent and has misappropriated DuPont trade secrets and proprietary information relating to DuPont's nylon resin business. Invista has denied those accusations.
DuPont researchers invented nylon in the 1930s, and the firm still ranks as the world's largest maker of nylon 6/6 resin. DuPont is seeking a permanent injunction and unspecified relief and damages relating to Invista's production of nylon 6/6 resins.
``To continue to invest in the kind of innovations our engineering resins customers expect from DuPont, we must protect our investment in this valuable technology,'' said Tom Sager, senior vice president and general counsel, in a Nov. 12 news release.
In the 48-page filing, DuPont officials claim that Invista violated a pair of noncompete agreements in numerous ways, including:
c Telling customers that Invista had DuPont resin available for sale.
c Advertising these materials at polymer trade show events.
c Recruiting business personnel to work in its nylon engineering resins business, including posting a job listing for an engineering thermoplastics marketing manager on its Web site and on various industry recruiting Web sites.
c Claiming to customers that DuPont obtains all of its nylon polymer from Invista and that DuPont itself was going to withdraw from the nylon business. ``Both of these assertions are false,'' DuPont officials said in the filing.
Wichita, Kan.-based Invista makes nylon resin for use in its own fiber products using DuPont formulations and also makes nylon-based compounds for DuPont on a contract basis from a plant in Canada. Under terms of the noncompete agreements, Invista is allowed to compete in the engineering resins market beginning in April 2009, DuPont spokesman Dan Turner said, but cannot use DuPont technology to do so until 2013.
In a Nov. 13 news release, Invista spokeswoman Mary Beth Jarvis said the firm ``continues to fulfill all of its obligations under the various agreements related to the Invista purchase.''
``DuPont specifically agreed to a five-year noncompete in the engineering polymers market space,'' Jarvis said. ``That noncompete period expires next spring, and until then Invista is not manufacturing, distributing, selling or reselling engineering polymers.''
Invista also supplies DuPont with nylon feedstocks adipic acid and hexamethylenediamine. That arrangement is not affected by the lawsuit, Turner added.
Koch, also based in Wichita, in 2004 paid DuPont $4.4 billion in cash for the Invista unit, which produces polyester and nylon fibers and owns the Lycra and Stainmaster brands. Koch then combined Invista with its KoSa unit, one of North America's largest producers of PET resin.
Meanwhile, in an unrelated lawsuit, Invista refiled a grievance against DuPont on Nov. 6, alleging DuPont misappropriated a chemical process technology for the production of adiponitrile. U.S. District Court in White Plains, N.Y., rejected the initial suit Oct. 30, reported Kansas newspaper the Wichita Eagle.