Agilent Technologies, Inc. (NYSE: A) today announced that the company has reached agreement with China-based companies EChrom and Pannatek, as well as certain former Agilent employees, regarding an intellectual property dispute related to Agilent gas chromatography technology.
"This is an extremely positive outcome for Agilent," said Konstantina Katcheves, Agilent vice president of intellectual property and deputy general counsel. "IP is the lifeblood of our industry, and Agilent is committed to doing all it can to protect and defend its trade secrets and proprietary technologies. This fundamental value allowed us to pursue this case over the course of several years and overcome many obstacles in order to achieve today's positive result."
As part of the settlement agreement, EChrom and Pannatek admit that — without Agilent's permission — they obtained from certain former Agilent employees, technical drawings and/or technical documents carrying Agilent trade secrets by violating the company's confidentiality requirements. The two companies then used technologies that were identical to, or substantially similar to, Agilent's technical drawings and technical documents in the development and manufacture of their gas chromatograph products.
The settlement also requires the payment of damages to Agilent, destruction of all technical drawings and technical documents carrying any Agilent trade secrets, and for the companies to immediately cease the production and sale of products using any Agilent trade secrets. Specific financial terms of the settlement were not disclosed.
"While IP protection in China still remains a concern for foreign companies, we see the current government making significant efforts toward improving IP enforcement," said Katcheves. "Agilent is obviously not only pleased with the outcome in this case, but also with the improved environment for IP protection in China."
The intellectual property involved in the case relates to Agilent's model 6890 Gas Chromatographs (GC). Agilent claimed that former employees named in the lawsuit used intellectual property based on 6890 GC technology to make and sell gas chromatographs for EChrom.
"We're very pleased with the resolution of this matter," said Shanya Kane, vice president and general manager, Agilent Gas Phase Separations Division. "Our success as an industry leader depends on heavily investing to create products incorporating advanced, cutting-edge technology so that we can better serve our customers. We cannot and will not allow others to inappropriately use Agilent technology our teams have spent years developing and that provide our products with a significant competitive advantage."