Invista, one of the world’s largest integrated fibres and polymer makers, is suing rivals Rhodia and DuPont in a US Federal Court, alleging they are teaming up to misappropriate its adiponitrile (ADN) technology and unlawfully using its trade secrets to expand their nylon chemicals businesses.
Mary Beth Jarvis, a spokesperson for Invista, said: ‘This suit was necessary to stop Rhodia and DuPont from unlawfully using [our] intellectual property to build an ADN manufacturing plant in Asia. We are asking the court to put an end to Rhodia’s and DuPont’s misconduct and award damages for the harm they have caused.’
The Invista trade secrets at issue relate to the company’s proprietary process for producing adiponitrile, a critical intermediate chemical used in the manufacture of nylon 6,6. Invista bought the original technology several years ago from DuPont as part of a $4.2bn (£2.2m) transaction.
When it sold the technology to Invista, DuPont signed an agreement prohibiting it from competing against the company or making investments in competitors for an agreed-upon period, which has yet to expire. According to the lawsuit, Rhodia obtained unlawful access to the trade secrets through a France-based joint venture between affiliates of Invista and Rhodia.
Invista claims that statements by Rhodia and DuPont indicate that Rhodia is using its trade secrets to develop and operate an ADN manufacturing facility in Asia. DuPont recently disclosed that it is an investor in Rhodia’s ADN expansion plans.
The lawsuit seeks to prevent Rhodia and DuPont from using and disclosing Invista’s trade secret information in developing their own plant or using that trade secret information to compete unfairly in the marketplace. It also asserts claims for damages for violations of various sections of the Lanham Act, misappropriation and misuse of trade secrets, breach of various contracts between DuPont and Invista, conversion, tortious interference with contracts, and conspiracy.
Rhodia considers the lawsuit filed by Invista against both itself and DuPont to be completely without merit.
It says that the case, filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, forms part of Invista’s attempts to prevent Rhodia from challenging Invista’s dominant market position in polyamides.
The suit, it adds, follows several other unsuccessful litigation efforts Invista has pursued against Rhodia, including a similar lawsuit against the company that Invista filed in Texas on 9 October 2007 and voluntarily withdrew on 15 August 2008.