DuPont and MacDermid Printing Solutions, which have been on opposite sides of a photopolymer-plate patent infringement lawsuit that DuPont filed in 2006, continue to slug it out in the market for thermal flexographic plate processing equipment.

The latest volley between the two started with DuPont’s announcement that it had reached an agreement with Cortron Corp. for the latter to stop manufacturing and providing service, spare parts and technical support for LAVA thermal plate processing equipment. The agreement settled a patent infringement case involving DuPont Cyrel FAST thermal flexographic printing plate technology.

MacDermid designed the LAVA processors and Cortron had been manufacturing the equipment on behalf of MacDermid, which is primarily a specialty chemicals company.

In the announcement, Linda West, vice president and general manager, DuPont Imaging Technologies, was quoted as saying: “At DuPont, we take the matter of intellectual property and the value of our patents very seriously. If we believe our patents are being infringed, we will protect them vigorously…. We are pleased that Cortron promptly agreed to stop manufacturing the current LAVA thermal processing equipment for MacDermid after DuPont notified Cortron that the equipment infringes one of DuPont’s patents.”

Because DuPont’s statement cast into doubt MacDermid’s ability to continue selling and servicing the LAVA equipment, MacDermid countered with its own announcement saying it would indeed continue to sell and support the products. The company has been selling the LAVA product line since 2005 and has built a global customer base for the technology.

Acknowledging that Cortron is no longer building the LAVA processors, Paul Merkel, director of global product management at MacDermid, told Flexible Packaging, that the company is able to continue to build new LAVA equipment.

“MacDermid is continuing to sell, service and support its LAVA product line,” he emphasizes. Merkel adds that Cortron has never had responsibility for service, support or spare parts for the equipment.

Separate from the LAVA brouhaha, MacDermid has filed a counterclaim against DuPont as part of the 2006 lawsuit to curtail what MacDermid believes is inappropriate competitive activity by DuPont.

In its counterclaim, MacDermid alleges, among other things, that DuPont has attempted to inappropriately suppress competition, attempted monopolization of portions of the flexographic plate market, engaged in inappropriate restraint of trade and used invalid patents to inappropriately suppress competition.

In May 2008, DuPont won an appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in the ongoing lawsuit against MacDermid. DuPont reports that the ruling advanced its efforts to enforce certain of its patents protecting the Cyrel FAST technology.

DuPont
800-345-9999; www2.dupont.com/Cyrel/en_US/index.html

MacDermid Printing Solutions
800-348-7201; www.macdermid.com/printing/