EAST CHICAGO | Don’t tread on ArcelorMittal Steel’s patent for its Usibor aluminum product.
Any doubt that the steelmaker owns the patent for the highly desired automotive steel product was erased when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington reaffirmed on March 20 that the patent belonged exclusively to ArcelorMittal.
The patent broadly covers aluminium pre-coated, hot-rolled or cold-rolled steel for hot stamping, which is sold under the brand Usibor. ArcelorMittal’s steelmaking facilities in Northwest Indiana supply Usibor, popular among U.S. automakers.
The steel is desirable because the thinner, lighter weight, high-strength grades help vehicles meet safety requirements while improving fuel efficiency.
Previously, a federal appellate court set aside a lower court's jury verdict that partly invalidated the patent ArcelorMittal held on Usibor.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington said the federal district court made an error in determining the standard the jury used to judge whether products made by rival steel companies violated ArcelorMittal's intellectual property claim.
The appellate court remanded the district court to hold a new trial to analyze whether a broader range of products would violate the patent – and if ArcelorMittal had obtained commercial success in the automotive market with the steel made using the unique production process.
Two ArcelorMittal French units sued AK Steel, Severstal Dearborn Inc. and Wheeling-Nisshin Inc. in January 2010, claiming the firms violated their U.S. patent. However, the jury verdict found that West Chester, Ohio-based AK Steel and other defendants did not infringe on the patent and that the patent was not valid.
Based on the appeals court’s affirmation of their lawful patent, ArcelorMittal intends to enforce its rights against any infringement of the patent, Mary Beth Holdford, ArcelorMittal manager of external relations, said in a news release.
Locally, ArcelorMittal operates integrated steel mills in East Chicago and Burns Harbor, a global research and development facility in East Chicago, a hot strip mill in Riverdale, a plate mill in Gary and processing and finishing joint venture facilities in New Carlisle.