Germany's Supreme Court Rules in Solvay's Favor on Patent Case With Neo
On April 6, 2021, Germany's Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof) ruled in Solvay's favor on a patent invalidation case filed by Neo Chemicals & Oxides (Europe) Ltd. against a patent pertaining to ceric oxide products comprising catalysts for minimizing emissions of the latest generation automotive engines, and catalysts comprising such ceric oxide products.
The appeal case at the German Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof) reverses an invalidation decision by the Federal Patent Court (Bundespatentgericht) in January 2019 related to the German designation of the patent EP 1 435 338 B1 . This appeal decision is final and conclusive (docket number X ZR 54/19 – BGH).
The Regional Court of Mannheim (Landgericht Mannheim) had already ruled in December 2017 that Neo Chemicals & Oxides (Europe) Ltd. (“Neo”) was infringing Solvay's patent by supplying certain cerium oxide materials in Germany. In its judgment, the Mannheim court prohibited Neo and two of its directors from offering, putting on the market, using, or importing (or possessing for such reasons) the infringing products in Germany. The court had further declared that Neo was liable for damages in respect of their past sales of such infringing ceric oxide products and needed to provide an accounting of their infringing activities. Neo appealed the decision to the Higher Regional Court (Oberlandesgericht) in Karlsruhe in January 2018. The infringement appeal had been stayed by the Karlsruhe Court pending the decision of the Federal Court of Justice. As validity has now been finally and conclusively established, the German infringement appeal proceedings will be resumed. Moreover, Solvay will seek damages for the infringement of the patent in the German courts.
As previously announced, UK courts in two instances also found the patent to be valid and infringed by Neo. Another UK court case is underway to determine the amount of damages that Neo owes Solvay on the basis of this infringement.
Neo is part of the Chemicals and Oxides Segment of the Neo Performance Materials Inc. group. The production facilities of the Chemicals and Oxides Segment are in Zibo, China, and Sillamäe, Estonia.
Respect of intellectual property rights is essential for free and healthy competition. Solvay will continue to take action to enforce its rights against infringers. Solvay will help its customers to cope with any difficulties due to exposure to corresponding compliance risks by Neo.
Solvay is a science company whose technologies bring benefits to many aspects of daily life. With more than 23,000 employees in 64 countries, Solvay bonds people, ideas and elements to reinvent progress. The Group seeks to create sustainable shared value for all, notably through its Solvay One Planet plan crafted around three pillars: protecting the climate, preserving resources and fostering better life. The Group’s innovative solutions contribute to safer, cleaner, and more sustainable products found in homes, food and consumer goods, planes, cars, batteries, smart devices, health care applications, water and air purification systems. Founded in 1863, Solvay today ranks among the world’s top three companies for the vast majority of its activities and delivered net sales of €9 billion in 2020. Solvay is listed on Euronext Brussels (SOLB) and Paris and in the United States, where its shares (SOLVY) are traded through a Level I ADR program. Learn more at www.solvay.com .
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