INEOS, the fourth largest chemical company in the world, has today announced that it is taking legal action against a number of Sinopec and Sinopec subsidiaries (SNEC, Anqing and others) for 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 has otherwise excellent relationships with Sinopec and with China, has no choice other than to protect its intellectual property.
INEOS fears that these breaches of rights will cause major harm to its Acrylonitrile business which generates up to $500m per annum of profit and has a replacement value of $3 billion. It supports around 5,000 direct and indirect jobs in the USA and Europe.
INEOS is pursuing parallel actions in the Beijing High Court and through arbitration in Sweden.
INEOS 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.
Jim Ratcliffe, INEOS Chairman, says “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”