Solvay Wins More Rare Earths Disputes

25.11.2016 -

Solvay has won another two patent cases against affiliates of Neo Performance Materials relating to its range of OPtalys cerium/zirconium mixed oxides products. The Belgian group has been involved in an ongoing dispute over the rare earths with Neo Performance Materials, which was formerly known as Molycorp. Headquartered in Toronto, Canada, Molycorp emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Aug. 31.

Courts in Germany and China have confirmed the validity of a key Solvay patent. On Oct. 25, the German Federal Patent Court accepted a version of the patent, which had expired in June 2016, from which only “economically irrelevant” binary products were excluded. Solvay said it will now pursue the corresponding infringement procedure in the Düsseldorf district court, which could entitle it to further damages.

Meanwhile, on Oct. 20, the Chinese Patent Reexamination Board fully rejected the move by Neo affiliate Zibo Jiahua New Materials Resources to invalidate Solvay’s patent in China. Both decisions are subject to appeal. Solvay also sued Neo in the UK earlier this year, claiming infringement of a patent held by its subsidiary Anan Kasei on ceric oxide products.

Rare earth oxides are used in automotive catalysts to abate noxious gases from engine exhausts. Increasingly strict air quality standards are requiring ever more complex formulated rare earth oxides as a result.