American sweetener company blocks Chinese import ‘copies’

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

© iStock
© iStock

Related tags: European union, International trade

American trade authorities are investigating a claim brought by an artificial sweetener that Chinese companies are infringing its patented manufacturing methods. 

The US International Trade Commission said it had received a complaint from Texas-based Celanese that three Chinese companies have been exporting an artificial sweetener to America that is made through a process to which it holds a patent.

The commission voted to institute an investigation last week into the unlawful importation of the high-potency sweeteners in response to Celanese’s recently filed complaint.

Celanese manufacturers Sunett, the brand name for an artificial sweetener also known as Ace-K. In its complaint, the company argued that a process to reduce the amount of acetic acid in the product and increase its colour had been used by Suzhou Hope Technology, Anhui Jinhe Industrial and Vitasweet in China.

In the complaint it claimed that the Chinese companies had not been given authorisation to use the process. It backed up its belief that its intellectual property had been used based on the products falling within a colour range described in its patent.

Celanese alleges that Suzhou imported some 445 tons of the sweetener between October 2015 and this past October. It also claims that Anhui imported approximately 854 tons and Vitasweet 191 tons.

The suit noted all three companies were found to have dumped Ace-K in the European Union in 2014 and are currently subject to EU antidumping duties.

The complaint calls for a permanent general exclusion order against all three companies, arguing that a lesser measure would be too difficult to enforce. This is because Ace-K has no visually distinctive characteristics, preventing even chemical analysis from conclusively establishing the origin of a given batch.

Celanese claims that the Chinese companies have a number of distribution channels and has “become aware of indications​” that one or more of the companies are attempting to dodge the EU duties.

In a statement, the company highlighted the investments its had made in research, manufacturing and quality improvement. 

The company intends to protect these investments to supply customers with quality engineered products, and intends to vigorously defend its patented technology against unlawful importation and uses in the United States​,” the statement added.

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