Husky Injection Molding Systems Ltd. is filing new patents to get around its inability to enforce patent claims disputed by Athena Automation Ltd.
A patent dispute board ruled July 23 that patent claims challenged by rival Athena are not patentable. The claims relate to a clamping assembly for tie bars. The U.S. Patent Office Trial Board ruled the claims were covered in previous inventions and are therefore obvious and can't be patented.
Husky's patent, U.S. 5,620,723 filed by Glaesner et al., covered an injection molding machine that includes a stationary platen with at least one stationary mold half and a first movable platen. Husky tried to change its claims for the patent, but the board disallowed the change.
“Husky is currently seeking patent grants on a new set of claims by filing two reissue applications,” Husky stated in an email to Plastics News. “These newly filed claims distinguish its technology from that of prior art, and are presently pending before the United States Patent and Trademark Office.”
Athena's patent challenge is the latest salvo fired between the company and Husky, a major injection molding equipment supplier based in Bolton, Ontario. Athena, also a producer of injection molding equipment, was founded by its CEO Robert Schad, who also founded Husky. Schad sold Husky to Onex Corp. in 2007. Athena and Schad's former company have been engaged in a dogfight in the past few years.
The Athena/Husky dispute echoes a former war between Schad's Husky and hot runner maker Mold-Masters Ltd. Mold-Masters' founder was Jobst Gellert, who had worked for Husky and afterward nurtured a personal grudge against Schad for years after he founded Mold-Masters. The Georgetown, Ontario, company went head-to-head against Husky in the growing market for hot runner systems. Gellert took particular exception to Husky landing a large government grant to expand in Bolton.
In an email attributed to Schad, Athena commented on the patent decision in its favor: “We are pleased with the decision and are focused on moving forward with our business as planned, including building one of the most technologically advanced systems integration facilities,” the company said.
Athena is expanding its injection press product line and its Vaughan, Ontario, manufacturing plant, which is near Husky's Bolton campus.