Peace signs appear in Molins row

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The Independent Online

Deputy City Editor

Molins, the cigarette machinery manufacturer, has drawn a partial line under a nine-year patent infringement battle.

Molins' attempts to sue a number of rival companies for allegedly stealing its computer-aided flexible manufacturing systems failed in February after the US Court of Appeals upheld an earlier District Court ruling that made the patents unenforcable.

Molins said yesterday it had settled with a number of companies using money it had provided in 1992 and 1993. But the company added it remained in dispute with Caterpillar, a licensee under the patents, which had filed an unresolved suit against Molins.

Caterpillar paid Molins $2m in 1986 as a one-off payment to secure the right to use Molins' system. Following the ruling, which suggests it paid up unnecessarily, it is now seeking repayment with interest and damages.

Molins said it considered the Caterpillar claim to be without merit and would vigorously contest it. Payments to the other defendants include a part-payment of their lawyers' fees and other legal costs.