INEOS, one of the world’s largest chemical companies, has announced that it is taking legal action in China against a number of Sinopec and Sinopec subsidiaries (SNEC, Anqing and others) for what it says is breach of contract and/or misuse of trade secrets.
INEOS says that Sinopec Ningbo Engineering Company has broken a long established technology agreement which, together with trade secret misuse by other Sinopec companies, has enabled development of a series of new world scale Acrylonitrile plants without INEOS agreement or consent.
INEOS, which says it has otherwise excellent relationships with Sinopec and with China, has said it has no choice other than to protect its intellectual property.
The company said In a statement that it fears these breaches of rights will cause major harm to its Acrylonitrile business, which is said to generate up to $500m per annum of profit and has a replacement value of $3 billion. It is also said to support around 5,000 direct and indirect jobs in the USA and Europe.
INEOS is reportedly pursuing parallel actions in the Beijing High Court and through arbitration in Sweden.
Jim Ratcliffe, INEOS Chairman, commented “We have good and valuable relationships with Sinopec and other Chinese companies across our business. But in this case, we have to take action to protect the interests of our stakeholders. The fundamental value of a business like INEOS depends on its intellectual property, which includes trade secrets and patents, covering technology, design and operations. Unless we protect our intellectual property, ultimately, we will see the demise of INEOS.”
In addition, the company said it “has every confidence that China has now developed an excellent system to protect intellectual property consistent with the fact that China now files more patents than any other country.”