NEW YORK ArcelorMittal
SAs petition for a rehearing on a patent infringement
lawsuit has been denied by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the
Federal Circuit, opening the door to allow defendants AK Steel
Corp., Severstal Dearborn Inc. and Wheeling-Nisshin Inc. to
continue selling aluminized boron steel products.
ArcelorMittal requested the
rehearing in January. The case, first filed by
ArcelorMittals French units in 2010, will be sent back to
U.S. District Court in Delaware.
The district court previously
ruled that there had been no infringement on a U.S. patent for
boron steel sheet with an aluminum-based coating held by
ArcelorMittal France and ArcelorMittal Atlantique et Lorraine.
ArcelorMittal challenged that courts definition of the
patent, which it said applied to steel sheet that was
hot-rolled but not cold-rolled, and appealed the case to the
U.S. Court of Appeals.
In November, the appeals court
ruled that ArcelorMittals Usibor patent applies to
cold-rolled steel for hot stamping and is not limited to
hot-rolled steel, remanding the case to U.S. District Court
under the new patent claim construction (
amm.com, Dec. 3).
The appellate court did,
however, uphold the district courts opinion that the
patent applies only to aluminized boron steel products with a
tensile strength above 1,500 megapascals (MPa), and that the
defendants could continue to sell aluminized boron steel with a
tensile strength less than 1,500 MPa.
AK Steels Ultralume
product has a tensile strength of up to 1,500 MPa, so the
product does not infringe upon the patent in regard to tensile
strength, the courts agreed.
ArcelorMittal did not
immediately respond to requests for comment, but a spokeswoman
said in a statement last week that the company "intends to
enforce its rights against any infringers."
West Chester, Ohio-based AK
Steel and Dearborn, Mich.-based Severstal use aluminum-coated
boron steel for automotive applications. Severstal said it has
been selling the product for five years and using it in
original equipment manufacturers lightweighting
"AK Steel believes it will
prevail again, and the entire patent will be invalidated," a
spokesman for AK Steel told AMM in an e-mail.
"We are pleased with the U.S.
courts decision to uphold our right to continue producing
and selling cold-rolled aluminum boron steel for hot stamping
while this patent infringement appeal process continues,"
Severstal vice president Martin Szymanski said in a
Wheeling-Nisshin did not respond to requests for comment.