Gibraltar-based Melea Ltd. which owns all of the gas-assisted injection molding patents marketed by Gain Technologies Inc. has been placed into liquidation, putting the company's full patent portfolio on the market.
The Supreme Court of Gibraltar issued a liquidation judgment Nov. 2 against Melea, following a petition brought by Cinpres Gas Injection Ltd., the company's major creditor. Cinpres and Gain have long been bitter rivals, battling in court over gas-assisted molding technology patents.
The coming liquidation of Melea raises questions about the future of Gain Technologies, based in Shelby Township, Mich., near Macomb. Three sources in the gas-assisted molding industry said that, in 2009, officials from Gain approached both Cinpres and another competitor, Bauer Plastics Technology Group, offering to sell Gain.
The sources spoke on the condition they would not be identified.
James Teasdale, Gain's chief financial officer, did not return telephone calls seeking comment.
Melea owes money to Cinpres because of a British appeals court decision in January 2008. That case resulted in Cinpres gaining ownership of one of Melea's gas patents in Europe relating to the overspill molding process.
The Gibraltar Supreme Court named Christopher Smith, a director at Grant Thornton (Gibraltar) Ltd., as liquidator and receiver for Melea. Smith said the company's assets include its patent portfolio along with a number of other agreements.
The liquidation is at a very early stage and we are still at the asset-identification stage, Smith told European Plastics News.
He said the process could take considerable time, but will ultimately end with the patent portfolio being sold. He is still identifying interested parties, he added.
Jon Butler, managing director of Middlewich, England-based Cinpres, declined to comment on whether his company will bid for the portfolio. There is nothing to stop Cinpres, as a creditor, from doing so, according to Smith.
There is nothing to prevent me as liquidator [from] selling the [patent portfolio] to them, but I need to be confident that they are going to give me the best price, Smith said.
Melea's patented technologies have been marketed worldwide by Gain Technologies. Melea was described by the U.K. appeals judges in their 2008 ruling as a vehicle for former Gain Technologies President Michael Ladney. According to Smith, Ladney is not a director of Melea.
Cinpres and Melea were involved in a series of legal challenges over patents relating to gas injection dating back more than 15 years.
Plastics News senior reporter Bill Bregar contributed to this report.
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