Industrial recycler MBA Polymers Inc. said it will work to address concerns that some companies and organizations have over two patents it was granted in the past 18 months in the European Union.
We are aware that a group of companies has filed opposition to two of our patents in the EU, MBA founder and President Michael Biddle said in an e-mail. Part of the same group filed objections to this patent during the examination process, and the [European Patent Office] still awarded the patent. We will be working with the EPO to address the concerns raised.
The Open Polymers Processing Alliance, a group of 66 European plastics recyclers and machinery suppliers that formed earlier this year, said Dec. 17 that it had filed an objection to a second patent granted by EPO to MBA, because OPPA members believe both patents cover what has been everyday practice in the industry for the past 20 years.
OPPA filed a letter of opposition Nov. 24 to an MBA patent governing the multistep processing of plastics-rich feedstock. In March, OPPA had filed an objection to an MBA patent involving the blending of two or more polymer types from the group ABS, high-impact polystyrene, polypropylene, or a polycarbonate with a secondary polymer, to make a blend with predetermined melt-flow index or density.
MBA owns a number of patents worldwide and expects to file for more in the future as it continues to develop new technology, Biddle said.
Our purpose is to protect the technologies that we have spent many millions of dollars developing. Innovative companies must also defend their [intellectual property] from opposition from time to time and this is often a normal course of the process.
Richmond, Calif.-based MBA takes electronics, computer and appliance waste and automotive shredder residue and uses proprietary technology to separate out PP, PS and ABS and make recycled pellets. It has plants in England, China and Austria.
The company recently raised $25 million in equity funding, most of which will be used to help build two plants at locations still to be determined, with Asia, Europe and North America all possibilities, according to Biddle.
In its statement, OPPA said it is concerned that patents were being applied for, and granted, without due regard being given by the European Patent Office to the widespread and long-standing commercial use of the technologies and processes described. OPPA members believe that the legal uncertainty generated by these patents is highly damaging to both future investment and job creation in this key industry as well as its role in delivering a sustainable economy.
OPPA said MBA's patents cover commonly held knowledge and know-how shared across the industry and used daily for the recycling and processing of plastics wastes back into new-life polymers.