LAS VEGAS (CN) - An Ohio company has settled a patent lawsuit that accused a former researcher of swiping its secret method for extracting gold, platinum and other precious metals from substrate.
U.S. District Judge Kent Dawson dismissed with prejudice the 2014 lawsuit from Materion and permanently enjoined Aqua Regia Solutions, Asalient and Sundarajan Mutialu from bringing any actions against Materion, which accused them of stealing its trade secrets, conversion and tortious interference.
The case was closed on Nov. 12.
Materion, a global "material solutions and services" firm that does business in more than 50 nations, claimed former researcher Petr Dedek usurped its proprietary chemical process for extracting high-yield and high-quality gold, platinum and other precious metals from substrates by falsely claiming a priority patent right.
It claimed that while Dedek was general manager of Materion Czech from June 2008 to January 2013, he worked with Matthew Noble to develop a method for "removal and recovery of metals and precious metals from substrates," which Materion protected via provisional U.S. patent application.
"The invention allows for the recovery of gold, platinum and other precious metals using chemical methods of stripping, separating and purifying the metals from different substrates, that result in high yields and purity of the precious metals, while preserving the substrate" and improved Materion's precious metals reclamation programs, Dawson wrote.
Rather than protect the invention with a patent, Materion chose to maintain it as a trade secret and provided it to its clients in North America, Europe and Asia. But in 2014, Dedek filed patent applications claiming priority over Materion's expired provisional patent application, though Materion owned the invention through Dedek's employment agreement with Materion Czech, the judge wrote.
Materion said Dedek's patent applications "disclosed certain of Materion's trade secrets and know-how, thereby destroying their value and causing irreparable harm to Materion."
The same year Dedek filed the patent applications, Materion said, Mutialu created defendant companies Aqua Regia Solutions and Asalient, which hired Dedek and used Materion's trade secrets for the competing businesses.
When Materion "learned of Dr. Dedek's theft of the invention and his plans to exploit the invention," it filed the lawsuit, whose allegations, Dawson wrote, the defendants do not dispute.
Dawson said the defendants have enough patent documentation to cause the action to continue, but they agreed to waive or disclaim any right to Materion's formerly secret process, cease promoting and using the process, and agreed to notify Materion if Dedek approaches them to continue infringing activity, in exchange for Materion dropping all claims against them.
Materion's attorney, Greg Brower, with Snell & Wilmer, was not available by phone on Wednesday.