A judge has found a plastic packaging company guilty of infringing two patents and two registered designs of a rival packaging company.
Australian Federal Court Judge Jayne Jagot said Brisbane-based Specialty Packaging Aust. Pty. Ltd. infringed designs and patents owned by Sydney-based Multisteps Pty. Ltd.
She also found Specialty Packaging's former director and general manager Neil Alexander Ainslie had knowingly authorized the infringement.
After hearing five days of evidence in March, Jagot released her decision in May and ordered the parties to consider her reasons and discuss what penalties Specialty Packaging should pay.
Multisteps general manager Alex Tse told Plastics News the company is now waiting for lawyers to arrange negotiations or mediation with Specialty. He said the court decision is "fair," given companies invest "a lot of money" in obtaining patents with the Australian Government body IP Australia.
Multisteps, based in the Sydney suburb of Silverwater, produces PET, polypropylene and polystyrene containers, films and punnets to package and distribute fresh produce, including fruit and vegetables, seafood, bakery products and meat.
Brisbane-based Specialty manufactures food containers from PET, PP, PS, polyethylene, ABS and polylactic acid.
The court dispute involved the design of eight clam shell-type containers with various locking mechanisms, which are perforated to enable air flow around the produce.
Specialty admitted it supplied the eight containers at various times from December 2013 to January 2017, but it argued Multisteps' patents were invalid because the containers lacked "novelty and innovative steps," as required under Australia's patent law, and said its designs were invalid because they lacked "distinctiveness."
Specialty also argued Multisteps' patents and designs should never have been registered because they are too similar to patents and designs registered earlier in the United States and Australia; and/or were already common in the Australian market when the patents and designs were registered.
Multisteps has manufacturing plants in five Australian states, including its Sydney, New South Wales, head office; and offices in China, Hong Kong, and Oxnard, Calif. Specialty has two Brisbane offices.