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JK Sucralose wins IPR battle against US firm
By Tuo Yannan (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-06-09 10:18

Chinese sucralose maker, JK Sucralose Inc, has won an intellectual property dispute in the United States, after a two-year battle.

The company has finally been cleared of the patent infringement charges brought against it by Tate & Lyle, one of the world's largest sugar companies.

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The Chinese firm effectively won the No 337-TA-604 investigation after the US president did not take the decision to veto an earlier administrative ruling in its favor before the deadline expired Saturday.

The ITC ruled on April 6 this year that the products of JK Sucralose sold in the United States did not infringe on the intellectual property rights of Tate & Lyle. Section 337 Investigation of the Tariff Act of the United States (1980) is a protective statute that prohibits the unlawful import and sale of articles that infringe US intellectual property.

The US firm filed a lawsuit in Illinois Federal District Court against Chinese firms (excluding JK Sucralose) in May 2006.

In March 2007, Tate & Lyle was forced to withdraw the lawsuit. After that, it filed a new complaint in the Illinois Federal District Court against three Chinese sucralose manufacturers (JK Sucralose excluded again) and 22 related trading companies and in the ITC for 337 probe against 25 respondents (including three manufacturers in China).

The probe went on for nearly two years and cost the Chinese firm more than $3 million in legal expenses. However, President An Lijun believes that "JK intervened in the investigation because we have been committed to compliance with the laws of jurisdiction".

The whole legal process, though expensive, had cleared all legal obstacles for the company's products to further tap into the vast US market.

Professor Liu Bacheng of University of International Trade and Economics said: "I believe that JK has set a good example for Chinese companies. Exporters must keep a close watch on competition in the international market and get ready for all upcoming challenges in the field of IPR disputes."

The high intensity sweetener market is estimated to be worth around 1.3 billion dollars globally.

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