At Chinaplas 2013, the Spartanburg, SC-based company showcased a variety of products including the Millad NX 8000 clarifiers, Hyperform nucleating agents and Hyperform, however, the topic quickly revolved around IP infringement.
Milliken recently announced it has filed several lawsuits to protect the IP embodied in its Millad clarifying agents.
The company is taking vigorous action against several companies that Milliken believes have infringed one or more of Milliken's patents through the sale of competitive 3,4 DMDBS products. In the lawsuits, Milliken will be seeking monetary damages and other appropriate remedies from the suppliers of these competitive 3,4 -DMDBS products.
This news comes on the heels of a new report released by the Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property, which claims that China is responsible for up to 80% of U.S. IP property theft, which is estimated to cost the U.S. an estimated $300 billion per year in lost exports, which is comparable to the equivalent to the total value of U.S. exports to Asia.
This isn't Milliken's first experience with patent infringement lawsuits in the Asian market. The company has won judgment in two previous cases, both involving Chinese companies.
"We won the court cases, which actually gave us the confidence that we can be successful in Asia, in China, in particular, when it comes to these lawsuits," Van De Velde said.
Milliken owns a wide variety of IP around its Millad products post 2020. The patents involve several around 3,4- DMDBS in a variety of end-use applications, 3,4 -DMDBS in blend solutions as well as several issued and pending patents around the aesthetic enhancement package in clarifiers and nucleators.
The Millad NX 8000 offers clarity in polypropylene allowing it to reach the clarity of glass like polymers while maintaining the inherent properties of polypropylene. This allows companies to substitute other materials like polystyrene and polycarbonate with lower density polypropylene.
Millad NX 8000 is used commercially in a wide variety of PP applications such as totes, food storage containers, thin wall packaging, shampoo bottles, fruit blenders, caps and closures.
Van De Velde said that it's the company's general belief that its customers respect the IP property rights and that he is confident that they do not wish to use products from companies that have engaged in patent infringement.
"There is a lot of R&D here and we feel the overall industry respects IP," he said. "We're going to continue to invest here and we see a lot of possibilities and innovation, which is key to a business strategy."
In fact, this past October 2012, Milliken opened regional headquarters in Shanghai, which combines design, research and business support, currently acting as the hub for Milliken in Asia. The headquarters also feature a floor covering design studio, chemical laboratories, and a pilot manufacturing facility and office space.