Innovation Asset Blog

Ineos sues China's state-owned oil refinery for IP infringement

China Petroleum & Chemical Corp (Sinopec), the largest oil refiner in Asia, denied infringing the intellectual property of Ineos after the Swiss chemicals company brought Sinopec to court in Beijing, according to The Guardian.

Ineos is suing the Shanghai Research Institute of Petrochemical Technology, a subsidiary of Sinopec, over technology related to the chemical acrylonitrile. According to Sinopec, its subsidiary developed this technology "after 50 years of research."

"Sinopec has full proprietary intellectual property rights over such technology," the company wrote in a statement. "There is no ground for the infringement alleged by Ineos."

Ineos said it will also pursue arbitration in Sweden against Sinopec.

The technology in question is one for making acrylonitrile that Sinopec is using at a new plant in Anhui Province. Acrylonitrile is an ingredient in hard plastics and carbon fiber, according to The Financial Times, and is used to make a variety of products - from toys to airplanes. Ineos says it licenses 90 percent of the worldwide production of the chemical.

Infringement cases in which foreign companies allege Chinese corporations and state departments have infringed their intellectual property have proliferated in recent years. Indeed, according to the Times, Lord Bamford, chairman of construction equipment manufacturer JCM, called intellectual property infringement against western companies by Asian manufacturers "a cancer" and brought up his concerns in 2010 to then-premier of China, Wen Jiabao.

Peter Ackerman

Peter Ackerman

Founder & CEO, Innovation Asset Group, Inc.