European Commission to start an investigation on DuPont and Honeywell over car-refrigerant claim

Article by Christian A., on December 17, 2011

The European Commission is expected to start an investigation on DuPont Co. and Honeywell International Inc. over a claim that they breached antitrust rules when they hid being the owners of patents for the refrigerant for car air-conditioning systems before the industry decided to use it as standard.

Sources said that Honeywell and DuPont hope to see growth from the jointly developed technology that is meant to meet EU’s environmental rules to reduce greenhouse gases from air-conditioning systems.

DuPont boasted to investors that the low-emission refrigerant pledges to have "nice growth and some healthy margins." Honeywell's specialty chemicals division said that coolants are expected to aid in attaining “extremely solid" profits.

According to EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia, he wanted to open "a high-profile case on standards" to follow an investigation into standards in the banking industry.

What regulators are seeking is to ensure that intellectual property rights "are used to reward inventions and motivate innovation and not as tools to foreclose access for expansion in markets."

DuPont’s spokeswoman Janet Smith said the company is responding to inquiries made by the European Commission with regards to the competitive dynamics and intellectual property landscape about the refrigerant. [source: Bloomberg]

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