Solvay, S.A. v. Honeywell Int'l, Inc., No. 12-1660 (Fed. Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
Solvay’s 817 patent claims an improvement to a method of making a hydrofluorocarbon (HFC-245fa), which does not deplete the ozone layer as legislatively mandated to replace ozone-depleting alternatives. HFC-245fa is especially useful in preparing polymeric materials used for insulation in refrigeration and heat systems. The patent has a 1995 priority date. In 1994, Honeywell and RSCAC entered into a contract, under which RSCAC engineers, in Russia, studied commercial production of HFC-245fa. RSCAC sent Honeywell a report documenting a continuous process capable of producing high yields of HFC-245fa. Honeywell used the report to run the same process in the U.S., before the 817 patent’s priority date. Solvay sued Honeywell, alleging infringement. Honeywell argued that the Russian inventors made the invention in this country by sending instructions to Honeywell personnel who reduced the invention to practice in the U.S. The district court held that the RSCAC engineers should be treated as inventors who made the invention in the U.S. under 35 U.S.C. 102(g)(2), that RSCAC disclosed claim1 in a 1994 Russian patent application such that they did not abandon, suppress, or conceal it. The Federal Circuit affirmed judgment for Honeywell. It is not required that the inventor be the one to reduce the invention to practice if reduction to practice was done on his behalf in the U.S., so Honeywell’s invention qualified as prior art.