Sidel Group and Blow Mold Services LLC have reached an agreement in Sidel's patent infringement lawsuit against BMS involving the spindle chain on a blow molding machine. Both sides are putting their own spin on the spindle story.
The spindle chain transports preforms within the oven for efficient heating prior to blowing.
Sidel filed suit in early 2012 against BMS, an Alpharetta, Ga., company that provides parts, rebuilding services and employee training for blow molding machines. The two sides began mediation to court-talks aimed at settling the case, and reached an agreement in October 2014.
BMS officials said the settlement agreement was supposed to be confidential. But then in January, Sidel issued a news release claiming victory — saying that its patent claims “resulted in BMS being barred from selling new and rebuilt components featuring Sidel's spindle chain technology.”
That's misleading, BMS responded. After disputing Sidel's claims to a Plastics News reporter, BMS issued a statement on April 7. The main point from BMS: the company can still sell spare parts and make repairs to spindle chains for Sidel blow molding machines.
“BMS was not found ‘guilty' of patent infringement or on the claim of trademark infringement that was filed at the same time as the patent lawsuit,” the company said. According to the settlement agreement, “Sidel's claims that BMS is ‘barred from selling new and rebuilt components' are simply not true.”
BMS said that through the mediation, Sidel asked BMS to stop selling new and rebuilt spindle chains for Sidel Series 2 and Universal blow molding machines. BMS agreed
“However, it should be noted that the agreement does permit BMS to sell individual spare parts and make repairs to chains for Series 2 and Universal machine applications within the context of the agreement and the law,” BMS said in the statement. “So contrary to what people have been led to believe, BMS can and does provide a significant number of new and repaired component parts and wear parts for the Series 2 and Universal style spindles.”
BMS said it is allowed to replace, through its repair process, all but three of the 23 different parts that make up the spindle chains on those models. “This leaves three components that we can repair to perfect working order and/or replace if needed, within the confines of the agreement.”
Sidel's news release was titled: “Innovative Sidel patent successfully enforced for third time.” The release said the “latest intellectual property enforcement” continues Sidel's efforts to protect its patents, referencing earlier patent settlements with B&G Products Co. Inc. and XL Engineering LLC.
It quoted Tim Bast, Sidel's vice president of intellectual property, saying: “Our strong focus on IP protection and zero tolerance of any infringement of our patents enables us to continue to invest and bring innovative PET solutions to our customers to help them better serve the market.”
Byron Butler, BMS director of technical operations, had worked for nearly 10 years at Sidel before leaving to join Blow Mold Services. He has asked Sidel to retract or clarify the January news release, and according to the BMS statement, Sidel's answer included a pledge that, in any future release, Sidel will endeavor not to use the word “components” in that context. Sidel also noted that BMS can advise customers that “the agreement does not bar BMS from doing limited ‘repairs' of Sidel transfer chains.”
BMS also said the lawsuit has not affected its ability to provide new and rebuilt spindle chains and components to Sidel Series 1 blow molding machines.
Sidel, a division of Tetra Laval Group, is based in Hünenberg, Switzerland.