Dow Chemical Co. (DOW), the largest U.S. chemical maker by sales, filed a U.S. trade complaint seeking to block imports of paint ingredients made by a Turkish competitor.
Dow and its Rohm & Haas unit claim Istanbul-based Organik Kimya San ve Tic A.S. is infringing its patented technique for making an opaque polymer used in paints, according to a complaint filed today with the U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington. The four patents relate to the polymers and how they are made.
The polymer is an extender for titanium dioxide, a white pigment used to make paints and plastics opaque. Paint makers use it to reduce the amount of costly titanium dioxide needed to conceal previous colors and wall markings.
Rohm & Haas has been selling its polymer, called Ropaque, since 1982 and it was the first of its kind on the market, according to the complaint. It has remained the top seller of its kind, Midland, Michigan-based Dow said in the filing.
The technology uses hollow pigments that use tiny air voids to scatter light. Dow said it makes millions of pounds of opaque polymers every year at four U.S. plants in Pennsylvania, Tennessee, California and Texas.
Closely held Organik Kimya has begun selling polymers that “exhibit characteristics that are very similar” to Ropaque, Dow said. It contends the Turkish company is making copycat polymers at its Istanbul and Rotterdam plants and distributing it in the U.S. under the name Orgawhite.
The ITC has the power to block imports of products that infringe U.S. patents. An investigation typically takes 15 to 18 months.
Price increases for titanium dioxide are making buyers such as PPG Industries Inc. (PPG) look for ways to reduce usage. Dow is accelerating the roll-out of Evoque, a new polymer that it says allows paintmakers to cut titanium dioxide use by 20 percent without sacrificing a paint’s ability to mask the background color of a wall or fence.
The case is In the Matter of Certain Opaque Polymers, Complaint No. 2957, U.S. International Trade Commission (Washington).